Monkeys. Bollywood song-and-dance numbers. Mythological derring-do inspired by the Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic. What’s not to like?

This, in brief, is the premise of Monkeys of Mumbai, a musical animated project that was developed at Dreamworks Animation, then axed. The feature would have told the story of two orphaned monkey brothers, Raj and Deepu, who live a hardscrabble life on the streets of Mumbai — until a chance encounter plunges them into a magical world of adventure.

We know this because the film’s director, Kevin Lima, has spoken about the project since its cancellation in 2014. Lima, a veteran Disney director (A Goofy Movie, Tarzan, Enchanted), has spent the last few weeks publishing an array of artwork from the production on Twitter. These revelations build on comments he made about the film to Den of Geek in 2017.

After spending two and a half years in development, the project was on the brink of entering production when the studio shut it down. The key reason: the planned sale of Dreamworks to Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which went through in 2016. In Lima’s words, the project was “sabotaged” by Jeffrey Katzenberg, then CEO of Dreamworks. Cartoon Brew reported on its development a full nine years ago.

The director’s tweets celebrate those years of hard work, revealing previously unseen artwork alongside anecdotes about the project. We learn that Dreamworks’s marketing department “was always nervous that the Ramayana played such a crucial part” in the story, and that religious historians “were totally fine” with the film’s take on Indian culture, to Lima’s surprise.

We’ve reprinted choice artwork from Lima’s tweets below, as well as a snippet of a story reel containing animation by Dave Weatherly:

Animation news you can use
Support independent publishing

Your membership will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you. Support Cartoon Brew for as little as $1 a week — the process is fast and easy.

Become A Member   

Latest News from Cartoon Brew