Gripping recreation of Mumbai terror attack

Dev Patel in Hotel Mumbai (Arclight Films)

Hotel Mumbai is an Australian-Indian film about the 2008 terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India. Source: ACOFB.

Based on the 2009 documentary Surviving Mumbai by Victoria Midwinter Pitt, the film is the story of the victims and survivors of the attack by members of the Islamic terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Director Anthony Maras is Australian and much of the movie was produced in Adelaide.

Hotel Mumbai first sets the stage for the main attack by showing the terrorists getting ready for their siege which included opening fire on Mumbai’s crowded train station. Creating havoc along the way, the group moved through Mumbai to occupy the Taj Hotel, where the main siege took place.

Film of the siege of the Taj Hotel by the terrorists liberally mixes terror with humanity and heroism. Illustrating the latter, the staff of the hotel risked their lives for others, chief among them being the Head Chef, Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher), and his waiter, Arjun (Dev Patel), who took the lead role in the award-winning 2008 film, Slumdog Millionaire). Half the victims of the attack were staff of the hotel.

Oberoi addressed his staff before they began to serve dinner, and during the meal four gunmen, intent on killing everyone burst in, and commenced a siege which lasted for three days. Throughout the attack, most of the hotel staff refused to leave their guests unguarded.

Heroism is also featured strongly among guests at the hotel which included a newly married couple (Armie Hammer, and Nazanin Boniadi) who made unimaginable decisions to protect the welfare of their newly born child, trapped in a room upstairs. Over the three days both guests and hotel staff fought valiantly to survive. The narrative accompanying the siege through the movie tightly focuses on their plight.

The film aims firmly at being a thriller, and in thriller-mode the illustration of terror is the film’s main concern. The violence it shows is bleak, graphic and brutal. The horror and intensity of the attack is brought vividly to the screen, and the film makes heavy use of eyewitness accounts that also serve to highlight multiple acts of kindness and courage. Just as a scene starts to create some kind of human understanding, often with a degree of warmth, the reality of what is happening forces the viewer to reassess, and urges confrontation of the cruelty and horror that is occurring, or about to take place elsewhere.

– Reviewed by Peter W. Sheehan, ACOFB.

Hotel Mumbai: Starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher and Alex Pinder. Directed by Anthony Maras. Rated MA 15+. Restricted (Strong themes and violence). 123 min.

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Hotel Mumbai (ACOFB)

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