Director Anthony Maras recreates the tragic Mumbai Terrorist attack that led to more than 170 casualties through his spine-chilling film, Hotel Mumbai.
On Nov. 26, 2008, 10 young men came to Mumbai, India on boats with assault rifles, grenades, and explosive devices concealed in their luggage. These men were a part of a Pakistani-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. From Nov. 26-29, the terrorists spread throughout Mumbai and participated in organized attacks. One of the locations that the terrorists attacked was the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. The head chef of the Taj’s restaurant, Hemant Oberoi, made a brave decision to stay and protect the guests of the hotel
Oberoi asked his kitchen staff if they wanted to stay and help the guests or leave to go home all 70 staff members stayed. He quickly devised a plan to move the guest out of the hotel restaurants since there was easy access to get inside them. The police were in the hotel lobby but no one could get to them without being killed by the terrorist. So, Oberoi and his staff moved the guest to the hotel Chambers club where they barricaded the doors and waited for help. After waiting for majority of the night, the Taj staff decided it was time for action. They evacuated through Oberoi’s office, down a stairwell and through an employee exit onto the street. Thirty-one people died inside the Taj Mahal Palace hotel over the course of four days, mostly staff members.
Similarly, the Hotel Mumbai movie focuses on the brave efforts of the hotel staff but it also focuses on a royal couple who were staying at the hotel during the attack. Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) and David (Armie Hammer) enter the hotel a few hours before the attack started with a nanny (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and their new baby boy after just getting married. The newlyweds go to dinner alone just before all the chaos begins. During their dinner, many citizens outside the hotel bombard the lobby doors in an effort to save themselves from the terrorists. The terrorists blend into the crowd of people to get into the Taj hotel. They casually walk around the lobby before they set up their artillery and senselessly start killing innocent staff members.
Just like the actual story, head chef Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and his kitchen staff risk their lives to protect the guest of the Taj. Amongst the staff members was a brave young man named Arjun (Dev Patel) who risked his life to protect the guest, especially Zahra and David. Arjun helped Oberoi sneak the guest throughout the hotel and check for any signs of the terrorist. He started off his day on Oberoi’s bad side by showing up late to work with no shoes and ended with earning Oberoi’s respect and helping multiple people to safety.
Dev Patel’s heroic role of Arjun was not the only contribution to this film. He also was the executive producer. Patel started off his acting career with a breakout role in Slumdog Millionaire which won an Oscar and ultimately gave him the leverage for better opportunities.
Director Anthony Maras keeps the audience on the edge of their seats the entire movie with the lives of the guest and staff on the line for more than half the film. The action during the movie is very gory to the point where you get a little choked up. From the killings and intensity inside the hotel and in the streets of Mumbai, your heart will never stop racing. Maras creates an element of sympathy for one of main characters, Zahra, by focusing on the fact that she is separated from her baby boy while the terrorists are killing people right in front of her and throughout the entire hotel.
Overall, Maras illustrates a chilling representation of the Mumbai terrorist attack that makes the audience feel as if they were actually there. The scene with Zahra and her husband David inside the restaurant silently trying to call their nanny and inform her to flee the hotel creates an emotional disruption in the audience’s hearts. Any parent would have a heart attack in this situation which makes it easy for people to relate with the characters in that exact moment.
Even though where the police are in the film didn’t match up with the actual story, Hotel Mumbai provides a thrilling front seat view of a not so well known terrorist attack making viewers wish they knew of this event sooner.