Hotel Mumbai Movie Review: A searing, quasi-fictional, yet true experience

Published: Nov 28, 2019, 18:29 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

Anthony Maras' uniquely calibrated skillset, deft realistic camerawork by Nick Remy, smart editing and modulated background score generate an agonising, shocking and ravaging experience.

A still from Hotel Mumbai
A still from Hotel Mumbai

Hotel Mumbai
Director: Anthony Maras
U/A; Drama, History, Thriller
Cast: Dev Patel, Nazanin Boniadi, Armie Hammer, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Anupam Kher, Amandeep Singh, Jason Isaacs, Suhail Nayyar, Vipin Sharma, Alex Pinder, Yash Trivedi
Rating: Rating

This film is a dramatic recreation of the act of real-life terrorism that struck Mumbai on 26/11, 2008, in the series of pre-planned, co-ordinated attacks in several locations in and around the Indian financial capital, Mumbai. Director Anthony Maras and co-scriptwriter John Collee locate the major portion of their story in and around the Taj Mahal Palace fictionalising the account of personal tragedies replete with disaster-action movie treatment, in order to provide the bulwark for their gritty and wonderfully shot production.

It's one of the most horrifying events of the 21st century, yet, and the ethics and timing behind such a representation may be debatable but there's no denying the strong resonance this film will have in the subcontinent. The way Maras plays it, the film is bound to bring back traumatic memories of a time best forgotten (for the victims).

While Maras' narrative touches briefly on the Pakistan protected terrorists' (belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba jihadi group) arrival by boat and subsequent spreading out to different locations in South Mumbai, mercilessly wreaking havoc and carnage in their wake, the intimate rendering of those disturbing events are mostly relegated to the Taj as the camera follows about a dozen characters from different backgrounds who find themselves trapped in various parts of the immense building when the shootings begin.

Watch the trailer of Hotel Mumbai here:

As the militants continue their deadly assault on the hotel, a brave chef, Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and a lowly steward Arjun (Dev Patel) decide to risk their own lives to try and protect the frightened guests, an assortment of nationalities including a debauched former Russian military man Vasili (Jason Isaacs) and an inter-racial couple, American architect David (Armie Hammer) and Middle-eastern heiress Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) with a baby and French nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) in tow.

Maras' film plays true regarding the inadequacies of the security forces and the administration who found themselves at a loss when faced with the sheer audacity and scale of the bloody and blistering assault. Maras deftly builds up the tempo and tension as the assault culminates in bloody bodies and ruthless, callous destruction (in the totally misguided name of religion). Even though the individual stories are largely fictional we get to feel the pain of those terrifying moments that eventually left an entire city feeling violated and traumatised. Maras' uniquely calibrated skillset, deft realistic camerawork by Nick Remy, smart editing and modulated background score generate an agonising, shocking and ravaging experience. Despite its generic elements, Hotel Mumbai makes for a troubling assignation – just as it should!

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