Sensational Stunts and a Familiar Story
“Brother, what have I seen, what was this John Wick in Mumbai,”_ exclaims the enthusiastic Indian reviewer about the upcoming action film Monkey Man starring Dev Patel. This highly-anticipated Hindi movie promises to bring a slick Hollywood aesthetic to classic Bollywood tropes. Directed by and starring British actor Dev Patel in his feature directorial debut, Monkey Man offers familiar themes of revenge and redemption with bone-crunching fight choreography more akin to The Raid than the usual Bollywood dance numbers.
The Plot Rundown
The basic storyline should resonate with fans of gritty vigilante thrillers. Patel stars as an ex-criminal seeking vengeance against the powerful politician and businessman who ruined his childhood. Dubbed “the Monkey King” for the mask he wears while meting out justice on the streets, Patel’s character battles corrupt cops and henchmen while reconciling his quest for payback with his spiritual values.
As the trailer reveals, the bulked-up Patel performs jaw-dropping hand-to-hand combat and weapons play while pummeling dozens of enemies John Wick-style. The intense action builds to a chest-beating emotional crescendo sure to have audiences roaring. As the reviewer says: “the intensity of this chest beating, the dread that gives you, creates an atmosphere worth watching the entire trailer.”
Controversy Around Representation
However, while the fight scenes look incredible, some take issue with the religious imagery and stereotypes perpetuated in the film. Patel’s character often appears in saffron clothing, a color closely associated with Hindu nationalism in India. The continued portrayal of India as mainly impoverished slums also draws criticism. As the reviewer notes, the entire nation isn’t defined by “slumdog millionaires.” So while the film brings a much-needed action boost to Indian cinema, it sticks to some outdated tropes.
Why It Matters
Still, Monkey Man represents a major step forward for both Patel and diversity in Hollywood. As one of few leading Indian-British actors, Patel is finally getting the chance to bring a distinctly Indian story crafted for Western audiences. Unlike previous roles confined to simple sidekicks and stereotypes, here Patel plays the charismatic, complex action lead – while also controlling the film’s vision as director.
As the first Western action flick actually shot in India, Monkey Man also provides some much-needed representation to Indians themselves on the global cinema scene. Patel presents a tough leading man who just happens to be Indian, while also steering the story in a way that speaks to homegrown audiences. If it succeeds, the film could blast open doors for more Indian creatives to shape mass entertainment.
While the plot and themes trend familiar, Patel’s intense performance and the promise of best-in-class stunt work make Monkey Man a must-see. _ “Be prepared [for the] atmosphere in the theater on April 5th,”_ the reviewer urges – “I know that you are going to enjoy a lot in our company.” For those craving adrenaline along with incisive cultural commentary, Dev Patel and Monkey Man seem ready to deliver a potent mix of both.