Monkeys of Mumbai (also known as Mumbai Musical and Bollywood Superstar Monkey) is a cancelled American computer-animated musical fantasy adventure film, that was to be developed by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Studios.

Plot

Monkeys of Mumbai tells the story of two orphaned monkey brothers, Raj and Deepu who live a hardscrabble life on streets of Mumbai. Raj is majorly disillusioned with the roll that life has dealt him. He is pragmatic and puts his nose to the grindstone to make sure his brother doesn't feel the hardship of being cast aside. Deepu, on the other hand, is the ultimate optimist and believes that one day the street monkeys, scavengers that litter the streets will one day soon discover their inner Hanuman (the Indian deity that was once revered by all) and rise to their forgotten glory.

While swiping the audience's movie snacks in an opulent, old world movie theater, Deepu became enthralled with a trailer for an upcoming film about the monkey god Hanuman. Ultimately the scavenging brothers are found out and chased through the theater by a gang of monkey catchers!

On their way home, the brothers find themselves in gang territory and must dance for their lives! The confrontation culminates in a giant Bollywood number, and danced on the mess of wires that snake throughout the city.

Raj and Deepu make their way home through the crowded streets of Mumbai. We discover that Raj and Deepu live inside the head of a ancient Hanuman Temple. It's humble, but it's home.

After a long day, when Deepu falls asleep, Raj sings about what he wishes his life had turned out. The song was titled In Another Life.

Raj and Deepu wake up the next morning to the sounds of a film crew shooting a Bollywood musical based on the Ramayana. The monkey brother investigate and get chased by the Monkey Catcher - they slip underground into a hidden cavern. The walls are covered with bas-relief carved sculptures of the story of the Ramayana. This piece depicts Rama shooting his enchanted arrow in the the sky. When shot into the sky, Rama's golden arrow multiplies and thousands of arrows fall impaling all of the villain's demon army.

Stuck in a pile of rubble is a single golden arrow. Deepu is ecstatic, this is the golden arrow that struck down Ravana. Raj, in contrast, is skeptical. Raj pulls the arrow from the rubble and Ravana, the villain from the Ramayana, rises from his resting place.

While running from the Monkey Catcher, Raj and Deepu find themselves hiding out in the trailer of Chandani, the Bollywood megastar playing Sita in the Ramayana, and her pet monkey, Pinki. Pinki’s a force to be reckoned with and with her over the top personality holds the brothers hostage.

The film shooting comes to a rousing finale and into this moment rises... Ravana, the nine-headed villain from the Ramayana! Ravana is tormented, driven mad by his 9 heads - each with its own personality and all power hungry for control.

Ravana thinks Chandani, the actress playing Sita in the film of the Ramayana, is the real Sita and scoops her up. Magically transforming a chariot, he flies to his island, Lanka. This chase sequence was set to a Bollywood version of the Bee Gee's classic - Staying Alive! Deepu gets separated from Raj and rides as a stowaway to Lanka.

Raj and Pinki join forces and set sail to rescue Deepu and Chandani from the clutches of Ravana. With the island of Lanka in sight, Raj, Pinky and their boat is swallowed whole by a monstrous carp! Inside the belly of the fish, all seems hopeless. Raj is despondent, but Pinki, the ever optimist won't let him wallow and attempts to lift his spirits in song. Bollywood Superstar is a giant inspirational Bollywood disco number replete with a bevy of exotic backup singer/dancers. They even glowed in the dark!

Back on the island of Lanka... we are introduced to Ravana's mob of Demons. Each was based on an Indian instrument and became Ravana's orchestra whenever he sang.

Ravana sings an over-the-top Andrew Lloyd Weber-esque love ballad, "Yours" which can be described as an otherworldly kaleidoscope. Deepu searches the palace searching for Chandani. Raj and Pinky fall for each other, in song of course, as they arrive on the shores of Lanka. The song was called "Candles on the Ganges". The monkeys find Chandani guarded by Musical Demons in a lavishly festooned chamber.

Raj and Pinki rescue Chandani and Deepu, steal the flying chariot and fly back to Mumbai. Monkeys aren't very good pilots, so they crash land onto the beach. Unfortunately, capture doesn't elude Raj and he is trapped by the Monkey Catcher. Deepu breaks his brother out and releases all of the imprisoned monkeys.

To win back the love of his life, Ravana descends upon Mumbai. Raj rallies all of the monkeys of mumbai. This climax was set to an uplifting song of rejuvenation, all of the monkey's reclaiming their inner strength, "I Am Hanuman."

Ravana transformed Deepu into one of his demon army. Raj embraces his inner hero, his inner Hanuman and inspires all of the outcast monkeys to rise up. They come together in the image of Rama, shoot the golden arrow and send Ravana and his demon army back to their graves.

Demon Deepu gets shot, as well. Raj tries to wake him up but it’s no use. Deepu suddenly wakes up all because Raj found his inner Huanuman! All of Mumbai returns to normal like it never happened! And in what is known to happen in a Bollywood musical, everyone celebrates!

Cast

  • Rohan Chand as Deepu
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Raj
  • Lea Michele as Pinki
  • Deepika Padukone as Chandani

Development

In January 2011, it was announced that DreamWorks was fast-tracking a Bollywood-styled musical adaptation of The Ramayana, but told through the point of view of its monkeys. It would have follow two common monkeys who become unlikely heroes in a last ditch effort to stop an ancient, thought-to-be-mythical demon from conquering the world. Stephen Schwartz and A. R. Rahman were attached to compose the songs and score. The project underwent a series of working titles: Monkeys of Bollywood, Monkeys of Mumbai, Mumbai Musical, and Bollywood Superstar Monkey. DreamWorks Animation’s Chief Creative Officer, Bill Damaschke said, “To reunite with Stephen Schwartz and work with such a celebrated team of artists on DreamWorks Animation’s first-ever CG animated feature musical project is incredibly exciting. Together we will create a movie that is full of magic, fantasy, adventure, comedy and emotion in which inspiring songs and dances will delight audiences everywhere.” In June 2011, Kevin Lima had signed on to direct the project.

Pre-Production

In April 2014, it was announced that Lea Michele and Rohan Chand were in talks to join the cast. The film was originally scheduled to be released on December 18, 2015, but its release date was pushed back to March 18, 2016 and March 10, 2017.

Cancellation

In December 2017, Lima revealed that DreamWorks quietly cancelled the film in an interview with Den of Geeks UK stating, "It came very close. We were just going into production, we were just starting animation. I'd been working on it for two and a half years. All the songs were written. Stephen Schwartz and A.R. Rahman. We were just ready to start. I have to say that it's one of the great disappointments of my film career not seeing that one move forward. It had nothing to do with the movie, and everything to do with the politics of selling the studio. Seven of us I think lost movies at that moment in time. With the studio having written it off on their taxes, it means the only way to get it back would be to invest that kind of money again. And it’s tens of millions of dollars. I tried. I really tried. Stephen Schwartz and I took it around town, but when the price tag was revealed, everyone gasped. Ultimately, we couldn't find a buyer."

Trivia

  • Kevin Lima, the film’s director, attempted to bring the movie to other studios to see if they would like to fund it. He hit all the major animation studios, but the price tag of the movie scared all them away. [1]
  • The characters in the movie were designed by character designers Patrick Mate, Kei Acedera and Sergio Pablos, and Art Director Ron Kurniawan.[2]
  • Almost all of the songs in the movie has existed in one form or another from rough demos to completed demos with finished vocal tracks.[3]
  • Kevin Lima doesn’t think the film will ever see the light of day. He says he’s asked Dreamworks to revive the project from time to time, but they always give the same answer.[4]
  • The marketing department at DreamWorks Animation was always nervous that the Ramayana played such a crucial part in the telling of Monkeys of Mumbai.[5]
  • At one point, the crew brought a group of religious historians in to see Monkeys of Mumbai and the crew was surprised to find that they were totally fine with our interpolation and in fact, encouraged them to go further![6]
  • The crew explored many different styles for the production design style of the Ramayana movie within their movie.[7]

Gallery

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DreamWorks Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Monkeys of Mumbai.

References

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