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Explained: Here's Why Dev Patel's Monkey Man Release Has Been Postponed In India

Dev Patel's Monkey Man was earlier slated for a 19 April release in India.

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British actor Dev Patel's highly anticipated Monkey Man has been reportedly postponed in India. The revenge action drama, which marks Patel's directorial debut, had its worldwide premiere on 5 April, followed by an Indian release on 19 April.

However, the film is yet to receive a green signal from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in India due to its intense violence, sexual scenes, and references to the Hindu religion and mythology.

What is Monkey Man about? Why is the film being delayed in India? And what is the controversy surrounding it? We explain:

Explained: Here's Why Dev Patel's Monkey Man Release Has Been Postponed In India

  1. 1. What Is 'Monkey Man' About?

    According to the film's official synopsis, Monkey Man follows a young man who calls himself Bobby, and lives in a forest with his single mother, who told him tales of the Hindu monkey deity, Lord Hanuman, while growing up. A greedy property developer, posing as a spiritual guru, who is also in league with a populist rightwing politician, tries to sell the forest to a corrupt police chief. Following the tragedy, Bobby is driven by a need for revenge and infiltrates a criminal organisation, earning money as a monkey-masked fighter. His childhood trauma leads him to unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

    According to a report by The New Statesman, "Monkey Man's critique of an extremely popular dictator who has managed to weaponize Hinduism is not exactly subtle."

    The film has references to the hijra (transgender) community, which has been shunned by society, and also includes a scene wherein news footage in the background draws attention to violence towards India’s trans and Muslim communities.

    Monkey Man is produced by Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions. As per Variety, the film was originally purchased by Netflix; however, the platform reportedly passed on the release of the film because of its themes that could potentially offend right-wing viewers in India.

    In addition to Dev Patel, Monkey Man also stars Sharlto Copley, Sobhita Dhulipala, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Sikandar Kher, and Makarand Deshpande in pivotal roles.

    Expand
  2. 2. Why Has the Film's Release Been Delayed in India?

    Earlier, reports suggested that the release of Monkey Man was delayed due to a supposed box office clash with Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff's upcoming film, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, and Ajay Devgn's sports biopic Maidaan.

    However, a source close to Bollywood Hungama said that while the makers of Monkey Man are planning to release the film in India on 19 April, a clearance from the CBFC is still awaited. "The film has excessive violence, and there are fears that some of its aspects might hurt the sentiments of the section of the audience. Hence, the Censor process is expected to take time. Also, the Universal Studios team in the USA needs to permit the changes asked by the CBFC. Once they approve, the local team will carry out the changes, and only then, the team will announce the release date," the source told the publication.

    The source further shared that if the censorship process gets completed on time, Monkey Man will be released in India on 19 April. Otherwise, the film is expected to hit the big screens a week later, on 26 April.

    Another source, who was clued closely into the film's development, told Zoom:

    "Even if the film finds its way out of the daunting orgy of violence, sexual references (multiple scenes of sexual violence inside brothels) and drugs related trauma, there is the other major problem: the frequent references to Hindu religion and mythology, which is fitted into the framework in a bizarre mix of violence and religion."

    Given the impediments, the possibility of the Monkey Man's release in India seems unclear at the moment. In order to get clearance from the CBFC, it is possible that major chunks of the film's visuals and dialogues will have to be edited or deleted.

    Expand
  3. 3. 'Saffron Flags' Turned to 'Red' in the Film

    A viral post on X (formerly Twitter) pointed out that an updated trailer of Monkey Man has been edited to change the saffron political banners to red, representing the 'evil political party' in the film. "Shows that they’ve changed the colours of the evil political party from saffron (Hindu nationalist BJP) to red (Communist Party)," the tweet read.

    Have a look at it here:

    Venki Manickam, a Texas-based engineer, confirmed to The Hindu that some saffron banners in Monkey Man were indeed changed to red, but the flags remained saffron, "resembling the BJP insignia."

    He also noted that the film is not 'Hinduphobic.'

    Controversy Over the Usage of Sita's Name In the Film

    Monkey Man features an escort named Sita, played by Sobhita Dhulipala, who is named after the Hindu goddess Sita, wife of Lord Ram. Since, the film draws inspiration from the revered Ramayana, naming a sex worker Sita, could receive a lot of criticism and backlash from the Indian audience.

    However, it remains unclear what other alterations have been made to facilitate Monkey Man's release in India. Universal Pictures India initially published two trailers for the film in English and Hindi with a 19 April release date; however, recent trailers of the film do not carry a release date at all.

    While Monkey Man is also available on BookMyShow India, the release date of the film and the window to book tickets, which were earlier available on the platform, are no longer there.

    Expand

What Is 'Monkey Man' About?

According to the film's official synopsis, Monkey Man follows a young man who calls himself Bobby, and lives in a forest with his single mother, who told him tales of the Hindu monkey deity, Lord Hanuman, while growing up. A greedy property developer, posing as a spiritual guru, who is also in league with a populist rightwing politician, tries to sell the forest to a corrupt police chief. Following the tragedy, Bobby is driven by a need for revenge and infiltrates a criminal organisation, earning money as a monkey-masked fighter. His childhood trauma leads him to unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

According to a report by The New Statesman, "Monkey Man's critique of an extremely popular dictator who has managed to weaponize Hinduism is not exactly subtle."

The film has references to the hijra (transgender) community, which has been shunned by society, and also includes a scene wherein news footage in the background draws attention to violence towards India’s trans and Muslim communities.

Monkey Man is produced by Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions. As per Variety, the film was originally purchased by Netflix; however, the platform reportedly passed on the release of the film because of its themes that could potentially offend right-wing viewers in India.

In addition to Dev Patel, Monkey Man also stars Sharlto Copley, Sobhita Dhulipala, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Sikandar Kher, and Makarand Deshpande in pivotal roles.

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Why Has the Film's Release Been Delayed in India?

Earlier, reports suggested that the release of Monkey Man was delayed due to a supposed box office clash with Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff's upcoming film, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, and Ajay Devgn's sports biopic Maidaan.

However, a source close to Bollywood Hungama said that while the makers of Monkey Man are planning to release the film in India on 19 April, a clearance from the CBFC is still awaited. "The film has excessive violence, and there are fears that some of its aspects might hurt the sentiments of the section of the audience. Hence, the Censor process is expected to take time. Also, the Universal Studios team in the USA needs to permit the changes asked by the CBFC. Once they approve, the local team will carry out the changes, and only then, the team will announce the release date," the source told the publication.

The source further shared that if the censorship process gets completed on time, Monkey Man will be released in India on 19 April. Otherwise, the film is expected to hit the big screens a week later, on 26 April.

Another source, who was clued closely into the film's development, told Zoom:

"Even if the film finds its way out of the daunting orgy of violence, sexual references (multiple scenes of sexual violence inside brothels) and drugs related trauma, there is the other major problem: the frequent references to Hindu religion and mythology, which is fitted into the framework in a bizarre mix of violence and religion."

Given the impediments, the possibility of the Monkey Man's release in India seems unclear at the moment. In order to get clearance from the CBFC, it is possible that major chunks of the film's visuals and dialogues will have to be edited or deleted.

'Saffron Flags' Turned to 'Red' in the Film

A viral post on X (formerly Twitter) pointed out that an updated trailer of Monkey Man has been edited to change the saffron political banners to red, representing the 'evil political party' in the film. "Shows that they’ve changed the colours of the evil political party from saffron (Hindu nationalist BJP) to red (Communist Party)," the tweet read.

Have a look at it here:

Venki Manickam, a Texas-based engineer, confirmed to The Hindu that some saffron banners in Monkey Man were indeed changed to red, but the flags remained saffron, "resembling the BJP insignia."

He also noted that the film is not 'Hinduphobic.'

Controversy Over the Usage of Sita's Name In the Film

Monkey Man features an escort named Sita, played by Sobhita Dhulipala, who is named after the Hindu goddess Sita, wife of Lord Ram. Since, the film draws inspiration from the revered Ramayana, naming a sex worker Sita, could receive a lot of criticism and backlash from the Indian audience.

However, it remains unclear what other alterations have been made to facilitate Monkey Man's release in India. Universal Pictures India initially published two trailers for the film in English and Hindi with a 19 April release date; however, recent trailers of the film do not carry a release date at all.

While Monkey Man is also available on BookMyShow India, the release date of the film and the window to book tickets, which were earlier available on the platform, are no longer there.

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(With Inputs from The Hindu, Bollywood Hungama, The Guardian, and The New Statesman)

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