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No monkey business

BBC-DISCOVERY CHANNEL CO-PRODUCTION·video·English· 52 minutes

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

(Credit: AKHILESH)FOR the 50-odd viewers present at the India International Centre to watch Warriors of The Monkey God, a BBC-Discovery Channel coproduction, it was a film, that they would remember for a long time for the content as well as for the cinematography. The slick production took 10 months to shoot and is yet to be aired by the bbc. "It will only be done in October," said Toby Sinclair, while introducing the film.

The film, whose duration is 52 minutes long, showcases one of the most enigmatic species, the langurs. In more than one way, the film is a sequel to the one shot 30 years ago by the present commissioning editor of the natural history section of bbc. At that time he had directed the film, Sinclair added. The film is directed by Phil Chapman.

The film revolves around a group of langurs -- its dominant male langur, females and their babies. The male langur defends his territory and his female companions zealously. However, danger lurks on the horizon because another group, of male langurs, is scheming to usurp his position and establish their supremacy over the area and the females. The outcast group stays across a railway line where food and water is difficult to obtain and obviously they want to win over the area within the city where there is an abundance of both.

Food comes from various sources some clandestinely also. One scene show the monkeys targeting a vegetable vendor, running away with vegetables and fruits - almost teasing him to take action. Or at times food for them comes literally on a platter when fruit are offered at the temples. As the temple-goers offer fruit to hanuman, the langurs have a field day appropriating them.

However, the first attempt by the outcast group of young males to try and capture the territory fails miserably losing to the lone ranger the old warlord. But they come back later with a better gameplan and outclassed the same aged warlord and take over the area. The female langurs are forced to mate. However, in the end the male leader of the victorious tribe, drives out the other langurs of his group to establish his sole supremacy.

The film beautifully interweaves a tapestry of daily life of the residents of Jodhpur with that of the langurs. They roam freely around, at times are chastised, but after death get a proper Hindu cremation. The dead body of the langur is washed, gulal smeared; ghee poured and then burnt according to the Hindu rites. The film also showcases the relationship between common people and langurs which almost borders pampering.

The BBC crew must be congratulated for excellent photography, which they are actually known for and an excellent script tight-knitted, humorous and craftily edited.

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