Directed by: Anthony Maras
Starring: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs, Nagesh Bhosle
Genre: Drama, History, Thriller, Biography
Release Date: 22 November, 2019
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Hotel Mumbai is a 2018 biographical thriller film directed by Anthony Maras and co-written by Maras and John Collee. An Australian–American–Indian co-production, it is inspired by the 2009 documentary Surviving Mumbai about the 2008 Mumbai attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India. The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Jason Isaacs, Suhail Nayyar, Nagesh Bhosle and Natasha Liu Bordizzo.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2018, and had its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival on 10 October 2018. The film was released in Australia on 14 March 2019, and in the United States on 22 March 2019.
On 26 November 2008, young waiter Arjun reports for work at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, under head chef Hemant Oberoi, who reminds his staff that “Guest is God”. The day’s guests include British-Muslim heiress Zahra and her American husband David, with their infant son Cameron and his nanny Sally, as well as ex-Spetznaz operative Vasili.
That night, 10 terrorists, directed by a man known as “the Bull”, launch a coordinated assault against 12 locations across Mumbai, including the hotel. As the local police are not properly trained or equipped to handle the attack, they can only wait for special forces to arrive from New Delhi. In the ensuing chaos, Arjun, David, Zahra and Vasili are trapped in the hotel restaurant with several other guests while Sally, unaware of what is going on, remains with Cameron in their hotel room.
David sneaks past the terrorists and successfully reaches Sally and Cameron. Arjun follows Oberoi’s instructions and escorts the guests under his care to the Chambers Lounge, an exclusive club hidden within the hotel, where they hope to remain safe. David, Sally and Cameron attempt to regroup with them, but David is captured by the terrorists and taken hostage while Sally and Cameron are trapped in a closet.
Meanwhile, police officer DC Vam and his partner decide to enter the hotel in the hopes of reaching the security room so they can track the terrorists’ movements. Arjun attempts to escort a mortally wounded guest, Bree, off the premises so she can reach a hospital. The two encounter the police but Bree panics and flees, only to be shot dead by a terrorist. Arjun escorts the police to the security room, and they discover the terrorists are about to break into the Chambers Lounge using the identification of a policeman they killed earlier. The police officer DC Vam order Arjun to stay put and attack the terrorists, successfully wounding one before being driven off. Against Oberoi’s advice, Zahra and Vasili decide to leave the lounge to escape but they are also caught and taken hostage.
Eventually, special forces arrive, and the Bull orders the terrorists to move to the final phase of their plan: burning the hotel down. The terrorists leave their wounded member, Imran, to oversee the hostages, and the Bull eventually tells him to kill them. Imran executes both David and Vasili, but spares Zahra when she begins reciting a Muslim prayer, ignoring the Bull’s command to shoot her regardless.
Arjun regroups with Oberoi and evacuates the remaining guests, stumbling upon Sally and Cameron in the process. The special forces kill the remaining terrorists, and Zahra is evacuated by crane, reuniting with Sally and Cameron. After the hotel is secure, Arjun returns home and reunites with his wife and daughter. Meanwhile, The Taj Hotel staff is seen re-opening the Hotel.
A closing monologue reveals that those responsible for the attack remain free to this day. The final scenes show a memorial to the staff and guests who fought in the Battle of Hotel Mumbai.
Hotel Mumbai Movie Review:
Anthony Maras’s Hotel Mumbai on the 2008 terror attacks in what is termed with a lot of pride India’s most professional city and financial capital premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018.
Anthony Maras’s Hotel Mumbai on the 2008 terror attacks in what is termed with a lot of pride India’s most professional city and financial capital premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018. It opened in some parts of the world earlier this year, but its India release – for some inexplicable reason – happens now, November 29 – more than a year after its premiere.
Dev Patel and Armie Hammer topline a plot set on those frightfully bloody nights in 2008 – when Mumbai was under siege in November 2008. The carnage went on for four days – when 10 members of the Laskar-e-Taiba carried out a shooting and bombing spree in eight different locations in the city. About 170 people died, including nine of the extremists. Over 300 people were wounded, some maimed for life. One of the most important points of the attack was the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel facing the Gateway of India. Maras’s work confines itself to the hotel, and condenses the story to a single night. It is fictionalised but inspired by actual events, and at least one of the screen characters is real.
The movie captures most vividly how a wonderful holiday for some of the hotel guests turned from a dream into a nightmare. Also, the bravery on the part of some of the hotel employees who could have easily escaped but stayed on to help and save the guests is highlighted with a sense of authenticity. The staffers are not depicted as some sort of Spidermen or larger-than-life film heroes. And herein lies Hotel Mumbai’s plus point.
On the other hand, a point of criticism can be that the movie may be somewhat removed from the actual events, avoiding a social and political commentary and taking the easy way out of conveying the triumph of good over evil. This approach may seem a little too bland.
The narrative is pretty straight forward. Among the hotel guests are the recently married couple, David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi), whose baby is stuck upstairs with their nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). There is a Russian businessman (Jason Isaacs) with a glad eye and a number of faithful hotel employees like the intelligent waiter, Arjun (Dev Patel), and the courageous head chef, Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher). Finally, we have the four extremists who are armed to the teeth and shooting at anyone who appears! Theirs is a cold-blooded operation.
The film tells us time and again that the SWAT team was 800 miles away in Delhi, and hence the delay in rescuing the hostages and also perhaps why so many died. First-time director Maras also weaves into his story the actual footage – although the movie was not shot in the Taj Mahal Hotel. But of course. A lovely set design by Steven Jones-Evans and cinematography by Nick Remy Matthews add to the brilliance of the work. Superb performances by Kher and Patel give the picture a sense of feeling.