Indian Censor Board Mutes Reference to Hanuman in Blockbuster Film Black Panther

Black Panther, from Disney-owned Marvel Studios, shows Hanuman as the God of a tribe.


The Central Board of Film Certification of India has reportedly beeped out a reference to Lord Hanuman in the Marvel superhero blockbuster Black Panther. The censor board has not revealed why the reference to Hanuman was muted, but the possible reason being attributed is that it might have “hurt religious sentiments.”

A sequence in the  Ryan Coogler-directed film features M’Baku, the chief of the tribe residing in the mountains of the fictional country Wakanda, played by Winston Duke, as saying, “Glory to Hanuman,” the Quint reported. This line was beeped put by the censor board in India. In the film, M’Baku is the leader of the Jabari tribe, a community that acts as rivals to the main character T’Challa’s tribe. M’Baku’s character is known as Man-Ape in the Black Panther comics, which the film is based on.

The term Man-Ape was abandoned by the filmmakers so that it does not become a derogatory reference.

The mention of Hanuman was meant to be a tribute to the Hindu Monkey God.  Winston Duke — the actor who portrays M’Baku — elaborated upon the idea of the tribe’s god in an interview to LRM Online website, saying, “We pray to the (monkey) god Hanuman, while the rest of Wakanda, they pray to Bast, the panther goddess. As a result, you have two different cultures within this one country.”

Director Ryan Coogler had earlier said in interviews, “When you go to countries in Africa, you’ll find several tribes, who speak their own languages, have their own culture, and have distinct food and way of dress.” He added:  “They live amongst each other, and together they make the identity of those countries. That’s something we tried to capture. We wanted it to feel like a country, as opposed to just one city or town.”

However, in the comics that the film is based on, the Jabari tribe prays to a Gorilla God Ghekre. It is unknown why the reference was changed in the movie version. However, it made for an interesting twist when M’Baku points out that his tribe are vegetarians.

Black Panther, from Disney-owned Marvel Studios, has been hailed for its almost all-black cast led by Chadwick Boseman.

Here are some reactions on the social media to the Hanuman reference in the film:

Black Panther is making waves at the box office. This film made $235 million (Rs 1,500 crore) in its four-day weekend in the United States and collected Rs 29 crore in four days in India. This makes it the most successful opening of any solo superhero movie in the country, and the biggest opening for a Hollywood movie in 2018, the Hindustan Times reported. The film has made $404 million worldwide so far.

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