Monkey Man: Is Yatana a Real City in India?

In ‘Monkey Man,’ Dev Patel offers a blend of mythology and action to deliver a film that is relentless in keeping the audience entertained. The story focuses on a man named Kid, who fights in an underground boxing club but has something entirely different on his mind when it comes to his endgame. When he was a kid, he and his villagers were wronged by some people, and the altercation led to the destruction of the village. The event also claimed his mother’s life, and it is to avenge her death that Kid is ready to do whatever it takes to bring down the people responsible for it all.

As the plot weaves around the many challenges that Kid faces along the path, the setting of the story becomes an important plot point. The city that becomes the ground of playing out the violence and mayhem that Kid leaves in his wake emerges as its own character in the story.

Yatana is a Fictional City Structured on a Real One

If the city weren’t named in ‘Monkey Man,’ the audience would naturally lean towards believing that the events were taking place in Mumbai. Yatana, which is not a real city in India, has been built with India’s financial capital in mind, but that’s not the only reason it appears so similar to the real city. Initially, ‘Monkey Man’ was supposed to have been filmed for the most part, if not entirely, in India.

Picking the proper locations took four to five months of prep, and Dharavi, India’s biggest slum area, was the first place where filming would pick up. But soon after, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and the production team had to quickly pack up and find another alternative if they didn’t wish to shut down completely. This led the filmmakers to move to Batam in Indonesia, but they kept the essence of Mumbai, having successfully shot some of the scenes there.

One of the reasons why Dev Patel, who directed, produced, and co-wrote the film apart from starring in it, gravitated towards Mumbai as the inspiration for the backdrop of the story was due to the many contrasts that the city provides. Growing up in London, he had visited India before, but it was during the filming of Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ that he found himself in touch with the place. He called it “brutal and beautiful,” which is exactly what he wanted for his movie.

While the story could have been set in Mumbai, Patel chose to go with a fictional setting and named the city Yatana. He revealed that the choice for the name comes from the word’s origins in Sanskrit, which relates it to purgatory, which comes together rather well when thinking about the film’s themes. The corruption, violence, and class divide in the city make it hell for the people living on the streets while the rich eat away as much as they can. The character also goes through several levels, as if working his way through the circles of Hell to get to Satan, adding another layer to the city’s name. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense why Patel went with that name for the city, even though it is completely fictional.

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