Though cinema is not a science, certain political films have a very Newtonian feel to them because of the equal and opposing forces that cause inertia. Don't Look Up, a 2021 satire on climate warming directed by Adam McKay, displays a celebrity ensemble while accusing the public of being obsessed with fame and being uninterested in politics. While this isn't the worst offence, it does raise doubts about the film's message and self-awareness. The 1971 mockumentary Addio Zio tom (Goodbye Uncle Tom) by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi is a horrifying example of hypocrisy as it attempts to parody American slavery by dehumanising hundreds of impoverished Haitian extras in front of the camera. The list is endless.

A similar issue plagues Monkey Man, the action-packed, politically charged directorial debut of actor Dev patel, although it isn't as serious as Jacopetti and Prosperi's exploitation or as frivolous as McKay's gaffe. Between these two extremes lies Patel's vengeance film, which has paradoxical optics resulting from pictures whose production is well-intentioned but whose meaning becomes increasingly disturbing and discordant as the present events of India's complex political context fade from view.
Even though Yatana, the imaginary metropolis of Monkey Man, is modelled by Mumbai, patel is not subtle about his motivations or sources of inspiration. His persona, known only as "Kid," dons an ape mask and sets out on a vindictive quest against the men—deeply ingrained in indian politics—who have mistreated his family. The most important of them is the fictional yogi Baba shakti, who is portrayed by Marakand Deshpande. baba shakti is a highly regarded religious figure whose name in hindi means "power." Even yet, patel uses a small clip of actual demonstrations against prime minister Narendra Modi and the bharatiya janata party (BJP), even if he doesn't mention them by name.

A movie that even somewhat targets the right-wing bastion of the indian government, which is cracking down on dissent, is undoubtedly daring. However, Monkey Man's resistance to the Hindutva movement—India's burgeoning Hindu nationalism, about which warning bells have been ringing for some time—is tainted by the following paradox: Patel's anonymous bare-knuckle fighter subtly reclaims Hindu myths, such as the monkey god Hanuman, by utilising them as spiritual fuel for an aggressive onslaught that breaks bones. Though the Kid's rage may be justified, it turns these pictures into icons of sanctimonious violence and uncomfortably mirrors the political climate of modern-day India.

India's Constitution Preamble places a strong emphasis on secularism. But since Modi's ascent to power in 2014, a pervasive Hindu supremacist mindset has emerged, exemplified by the lynchings of religious minorities and the recent citizenship amendment act that exposes many of India's 200 million Muslims to deportation and internment when combined with the country's National Register of Citizens. Following years of anti-Muslim pogroms, these problems reached a symbolic tipping point in january when Modi publicly inaugurated the disputed ram Mandir, a Hindu temple constructed on the site of the Babri Masjid, a mosque destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992.

The main argument put forward by the temple's proponents is that the Masjid was constructed on the site of Lord Ram's birth, a central figure in Hindu mythology, a claim that is universally acknowledged to be unsupported by historical evidence. The recent use of the phrase "Jai Shri Ram" (which means "Praise Lord Ram") as a call to action for radical acts of violence against minorities has made the use of hinduism as a weapon in fiction inextricably linked to actual crimes. Notably, Hanuman plays a crucial part as Lord Ram's devoted disciple in the main Hindu epic about Lord ram, the Ramayana, which is a popular influence in indian storytelling.

The Oscar-winning, crossover tollywood movie rrr introduced many Western spectators to the impact of the Ramayana. In the film's conclusion, real-life liberation warriors Alluri Sitaram Raju (played by ram Charan) and komaram bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) were turned into the avatars of Hanuman and ram, respectively. But there were also some unsettling visuals in that movie.

Similar to ram, Hanuman has recently been invoked in instances of mob violence. A campaign to leave one seat empty at every showing of the Ramayana-based film Adipurush in june 2023 was launched in an attempt to symbolise Hanuman's presence; however, at least one moviegoer apparently missed the memo and was beaten up for taking the vacant seat. Hindu idols are sometimes used as weapons, even in movie theatres. The phrase "Jai Bajrang Bali," which is another name for Hanuman, has also been used in attacks against Muslims and other minorities, similar to "Jai Shri Ram." Modi even adopted it as a punitive catchphrase. For this reason, its inclusion in the movie—a crowd member chants it in support of Kid during a fight—is at best confusing.

In addition to witnessing "Kid" assume the ape god's appearance and hearing memories of his mother (Adithi Kalkunte) telling him stories of Hanuman's valour, Monkey Man also notices that the film incorporates the Ramayana as a structural element. In the first epic, Hanuman helps free Sita, the wife of ram, from the demon king Ravana's grasp. Similar subplots may be found in Monkey Man, when Kid seeks to save an escort named Sita (Sobhita Dhulipala) from a brothel that one of his main targets, the villainous police officer Rana (Sikandar Kher), frequents.

Monkey Man is buoyed by enough political gusto to still ruffle a few feathers.


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