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Dev Patel emotional as ‘Monkey Man’ gets standing ovation at SXSW film festival

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Actor Dev Patel was seen fighting back tears after his directorial debut Monkey Man received a standing ovation at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival.

The much-anticipated India-set movie, also written by the Slumdog Millionaire and Lion star, had its world premiere at the film gala, held annually in Austin, Texas. The movie was introduced to the audience by filmmaker Jordan Peele, who serves as a producer of the project.

Inspired by the legend of Lord Hanuman, Monkey Man is set in Mumbai and features Patel as Kid, a man on a quest for vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimise the poor and powerless.

Post the screening, Patel made his way to the stage and was met with loud cheers and applause from the audience. Seeing the overwhelming reaction, the actor became emotional.

The actor said he has been a longtime fan of the action genre and revealed that he was introduced to the story of Lord Hanuman from the Hindu epic Ramayan by his grandfather.

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“He (the character) really captivated me. He has been sort of an emblem for my father and many in my family… If you go to any gym in India, there’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman, and Hanuman. What baffled me growing up was this iconography of this super strong being who could hold mountains in one hand and split his chest open. It reminded me of the iconography of Superman. I was like this is amazing, I wish the world knew about it,” Patel said.

The actor said he wanted to take a grounded route to the story.

“When you go deep into it, he is sort of a guy who has lost faith in himself and had to be reminded of who he was,” he said, adding that he was also inspired by his love for Bruce Lee movies.

“I really wanted to touch on the caste system in India, the idea where the poor are at the bottom, slaving away in these kitchens, then you go to the land of the kings, and above them, you have God, a man-made god that is polluting and corrupting religion, and then you have heaven,” Patel said.

The actor also asked the film’s cast and crew to join him on the stage. The film also stars popular Indian actors Sobhita Dhulipala, Vipin Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Sikandar Kher, Pitobash, and Makarand Deshpande, along with Sharlto Copley.

Set to be released in theatres on April 5, Monkey Man is produced by Patel, Jomon Thomas, Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Ian Cooper, Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, Christine Haebler, and Anjay Nagpal.

Patel has developed the movie from a story idea he had. He wrote the screenplay along with Paul Angunawela and John Collee.

The movie has received glowing reviews from critics at SXSW with many hailing the actor’s performance and the action sequences.

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