Castmates and fellow filmmakers rave about Dev Patel in his directorial debut “Monkey Man,” in cinemas May 15

Oscar® nominee Dev Patel (“Lion,” ”Slumdog Millionaire”) achieves an astonishing, tour-de-force feature directing debut with an action thriller about one man’s quest for vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless, in “Monkey Man.”

The film, certified Fresh on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, has been earning rave reviews. One of the film’s earliest fans? Patel’s fellow multi-hyphenate, director-writer-actor-producer Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us,” “Nope”). 

“Monkey Man” was initially scheduled to be released on a streaming platform, but with the shoot completed and the film in the editing process, Patel and his fellow producers sought out the perfect partners to finalize Patel’s labor of love and launch it as a major theatrical release, instead. They found that partner in American filmmaker Jordan Peele and his Monkeypaw productions team. For Peele, “Monkey Man” was an easy “yes.” “When I heard ‘Dev Patel,’ I was hooked,” Peele says. “He’s one of my favorite actors. He’s also one of the most consistently empathetic and emotive performers who has this amazing opportunity to be a badass. Then I heard that he also directed the film, which blew my mind that someone could try and direct themselves in this way.”

Adds Peele’s fellow producer at Monkeypaw Win Rosenfeld, “We love working with filmmakers attempting something truly genre-bending and disruptive, and the process of bringing those kinds of films to theaters is deeply gratifying. With ‘Monkey Man,’ Dev created something undeniable and unignorable and we’re deeply grateful to be on that ride with him.”

Sikandar Kher, who plays the corrupt police officer who killed Kid’s mother, was thrilled by the opportunity to work with Patel. “Dev’s passion is something I want to learn,” Kher says. “When he says something, there’s something to back it up. He’s extremely intelligent and whatever he’s immersed in, he sticks by it. You don’t realize with Dev that you’re being directed. He puts so much confidence and encouragement into you, and that’s what an actor thrives on.”

Sobhita Dhulipala, who plays an escort named Sita, was fascinated by the world that director Dev Patel created for the film. “What interested me about this world are its hyper-real moments tucked amidst these glamorous, high-octane pieces,” Dhulipala says. “And yet, the truth that it wants to speak about is so relevant everywhere in the world: the mingling of religion and politics, how sorrow is intrinsic to everybody’s life, no matter where you stand in society. ”

Cinematographer Sharone Meir says that he’s prouder of “Monkey Man” than of anything he has created before. “I’m proud of it as a whole,” Meir says. “I’m proud of how cohesive and unified the feel and the look of the movie is. I’m proud of how we managed to let the audience not only see, but almost smell, the gritty, dirty, sweaty, nature of the environment it takes place in – versus the plush and glamorous world of the rich. I’m proud of how energetic, kinetic and raw it is… moviemaking with big kahunas! It takes a great director, with a true vision, to achieve that.”

Inspired by the legend of the Hindu deity Hanuman, a symbol of wisdom, strength, courage, devotion and self-discipline, “Monkey Man” is an action thriller about one man’s quest for vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless. Patel plays Kid, an anonymous young man who ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, Kid discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

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