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Dev Patel on inclusion of ‘India’s third gender’ in action film Monkey Man: ‘An anthem for the marginalised’

"We should be fighting for each other, not against each other" says Dev

By Jamie Tabberer

Dev Patel in a still from Monkey Man
Dev Patel in Monkey Man (Image: Universal Pictures)

Dev Patel has discussed the representation of gender diversity in his new action movie Monkey Man.

The Skins star directs and stars in the thriller, co-produced by Jordan Peele, about a man working as an underground fighter in India who sets out to avenge past wrongs.

In the story, which Dev also created and co-wrote, his downtrodden character is taken in and healed by a community of hijras at a temple. Known as India’s third gender, hijras are a distinct social and cultural group in India often including trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people.

“This is an anthem for the underdogs” – Dev Patel

Asked by Variety at the film’s LA premiere this week about its “trans representation, Dev said: “This is an anthem for the underdog, the voiceless, the marginalised.

“For me, I wanted to take this old mythology, take these characters, … this hero, Hanuman, who had lost faith in himself. Didn’t realise who he was, and needed to be reminded by fellow outsiders. Together, they wage this war for the good and the just. For me, I really wanted to include the hijra community, the third gender in India.”

The actor, also known for roles in The Green Knight and Slumdog Millionaire, went on: “This, at its core, is a revenge film about faith, the beauty of faith. We should be fighting for each other, not against each other.”

“It’s become rigid over time,” the 33-year-old went on. “You look at these old carvings in temples in India and the freedom, the sexuality, the philosophy was so ahead of its time. I wanted to dive into that, and make that the lore of the film.”

Monkey Man is in UK cinemas now.