“Monkey business” has a very literal meaning for the denizens of New Delhi.
Considered holy, and therefore protected, monkeys populate the streets and freely
intermingle the daily life of India’s chaotic capital. Sometimes intrusive, even aggressive,
they need to be non-violently controlled. Enter human wranglers, who ape the guttural
sounds – see the film’s title – of langur monkeys, the simian horde’s natural enemies.
Aimless young migrant Anjani (Shardul Bharadwaj) is hired but struggles to make the right
noises, resorting to increasingly desperate, if imaginative, schemes – slingshots, a full-size
langur costume – to keep his job.
Director Prateek Vats’ debut feature deftly mixes farcical comedy with telling social
commentary. Luckless Anjani is just one of many marginalized workers – his
pregnant sister, her harried, traffic cop husband – dependent on capricious officials
and precarious employment. Vats imbues a documentary-like view of New Delhi’s
restless ebb and flow with haunting surrealist visuals, to evoke a warped social
order, where man is more disposable than monkey.