Monkey Man: Where Was Dev Patel’s Movie Filmed?

Dev Patel’s debut directorial, ‘Monkey Man,’ is an action thriller that follows Kid (Dev Patel) as he undergoes a transformation from a marginalized figure surviving in an underground fight club to a vengeful force against corrupt elites. Kid’s journey is fueled by the unresolved trauma of his mother’s murder, leading him to infiltrate the circles of India’s wealthiest and most reprehensible individuals residing in Yatana. Along the way, Kid becomes a symbol of hope for the oppressed as he seeks justice not only for himself but for countless others who suffer under the oppressive systems perpetuated by those in power.

Inspired by the Hindu deity Hanuman, Kid’s quest for revenge evolves into a mission to protect and empower the marginalized, ultimately challenging the very foundations of societal injustice. As Kid infiltrates the wealthy organization of his enemies, the film takes us from the slums of Yatana to its posh nightclubs and skyscrapers while briefly showing traumatic sequences from his past in a burning village.

Monkey Man Filming Locations

‘Monkey Man’ was largely filmed in a studio in Batam, Indonesia, while exterior shots of Mumbai, India, were used to depict the fictional city of Yatana. Shooting for the movie took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and every department faced monumental challenges, ranging from production and equipment to crew and extras. Principal photography began in July 2020 and was carried out over nine months before being wrapped up by March 2021. Let us take a closer look at the Indian and Indonesian locations seen in the film and utilized for its creation.

Batam, Indonesia

‘Monkey Man’ was largely filmed on the small Indonesian island of Batam, with the production team setting up shop in Infinite Studios situated at Jl. Hang Lekiu No.2, Sambau, Kecamatan Nongsa. The location was finalized at the last minute when production was shifted from India due to the COVID-19 lockdown enforced in the country. After arriving in Batam and quarantining, the cast and crew remained in a bubble of nearly 500 people, minimizing any external contact. However, the isolation, along with their island location, posed major challenges once the shooting began.

In the very first action scene shot in the studio, Dev Patel was doing his own stunts and broke his hand while being thrown around by his co-star. Despite this, the actor-director continued filming until the injury reached a critical juncture, at which point he was flown to Jakrata for medical attention. After a doctor inserted a screw in the broken hand, Patel began filming stunt scenes the very next day after returning to Batam. Upon the completion of filming, he was presented with a t-shirt with his x-ray imprinted on it by the crew, which jokingly read: The only screw that kept production alive.

Adding further to the filming problems was a shortage of stunt props and damaged camera equipment. “We only had three or four break-away tables, so once I would perform a huge bulk of stunts, I would scream CUT and then immediately, all of us would get on our hands and knees looking for all of the broken pieces of wood to glue the tables back together for the next shot,” wrote Dev Patel in an Ask Me Anything post on Reddit. Cameras and rigging were in a similarly dire state. Due to closed borders and the inability to acquire new equipment, once cameras and cranes broke, the film crew found themselves using phone cameras and Go Pros, along with a makeshift camera rig made from rope.

Located in the Riau Archipelago, just south of Singapore, Batam is a part of the Riau Islands Province and is known for its strategic location as a hub for trade, industry, and tourism in the region. Infinite Studios is split into two sites, the first is in Singapore and is equipped with sound stages. The second is in Batam and has two expansive soundstages of 30,000 square feet and 14,000 square feet, along with a 1-hectare backlot where sets for ‘Monkey Man’ were built.

Mumbai, India

India’s commercial hub of Mumbai features in cinematic landscape shots of the film. In particular, we can observe the skyscraper-lined background of the city, captured with a dense complex of slums in the foreground. This scene was shot at the real-life site of Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia. Its proximity to some of the most affluent areas of Mumbai illustrates a clear picture of the wealth divide that ‘Monkey Man’ highlights with its evocative shots of the locale. Dev Patel’s breakout film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ also filmed scenes in Dharavi.

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