Director: Anthony Maras
Original Title: –
The true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families.
My extreme movie interest came from watching Horror movies as a child and I feel in love with the genre and the scares they gave me. Nowdays, I still watch horror, and it’s the genre I look out for new titles most. The problem is that nothing gives me that adrenaline kick of being frighten anymore, but movies like this one does. It’s tense and the element of true story makes this one amazing. It both feels me with that adrenaline rush that makes me talk to the people onscreen, on how they should act 🙂 … and makes me furious over these f**king religious degenerates.
Not a second of the movies is a filler, it has that tension all the way from the station attack, through when the small kid cried, to when people try to escape. Beautiful shot, fantastic acting and amazing colors.
The film is based on a true story. In November 2008, ten Pakistani members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organization, carried out a series of twelve coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai in India. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday 26th November and lasted until Saturday 29th November, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308. Eight of the attacks occurred in South Mumbai: at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Trident Oberoi Hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, the Leopold Cafe, the Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish community center, the Metro Cinema, St. Xavier’s College, and in a lane behind ‘The Times of India’ building.
A significant amount of actual dialogue in the film was repeated verbatim being taken from original transcripts of actual intercepted mobile (cell) phone calls during the real 2008 siege.
Filmmaker Anthony Maras remains awestruck by the many examples of bravery to emerge from the attacks. He said: “Taj kitchen workers stuffed baking trays under their shirts, makeshift bulletproof vests, as they shielded patrons from machine-gun fire. Guests lowered fellow travelers out of windows using ropes made of knotted bed sheets. Some Taj staff members led others through hidden corridors to safety outside, only to re-enter the hotel, and look for more people to save.” Inspired by the courage and selflessness displayed amid such a tsunami of violence, Maras was determined to tell their stories on film.
I watched this on a Scandinavian barebones Blu-ray version that’s not much to talk about.
The True Story Behind the Movie Hotel Mumbai
On November 26, 2008, 10 young men in an inflatable dinghy came ashore in Mumbai, India, and slipped into the city undetected. They had been sent by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based terrorist group. Armed with assault rifles, grenades and improvised explosive devices, they quickly fanned out across the city. Over the course of the next three days, the terrorists wreaked havoc, killing more than 170 people and bringing Mumbai to its knees.
Hotel Mumbai’s filmmakers did an ambitious amount of research on the real attacks before filming. But as with many dramatizations of real events, Hotel Mumbai’s narrative diverges from history in some instances. TIME spoke with Maras to learn aspects of the film are drawn from fact and which have been altered for narrative purposes.
Did the siege of the hotel really last for days?
Throughout the film, guests and staff remain trapped in the hotel, stalked by murderous terrorists for days on end, as security forces remain outside. This depiction of events is pretty close to the reality of the situation during the chaotic days of Nov. 26 to 29, 2008. According to a RAND report, it took nearly 10 hours for India’s elite NSG commandos to arrive on the scene of the attacks in Mumbai, in part due to the fact that the country’s rapid-reaction force was based near Delhi, hundreds of miles away. In the meantime, civilians trapped in the Taj Hotel and other hostage situations around Mumbai were essentially left to fend for themselves. It wasn’t until the morning of Nov. 29 that counterterrorism operatives finally cleared the building and the siege of the Taj Hotel officially ended.
Is Dev Patel’s character, Arjun, based on a real person?
Arjun, a waiter caught in the midst of the attacks, is one of the film’s central characters. Over the course of the movie, he attempts to both keep his guests safe and make it back to his own family alive. According to Maras, Arjun is not a real person, though many of his actions in the film, such as telling guests at a restaurant to hide under tables and keep the lights off as the attackers storm the building, are based on real events. The character is actually an amalgam of two real people: a waiter in one of the Taj’s restaurants and an unarmed security guard who was able to help lead a pair of police officers to the hotel’s CCTV room in order to track the location of the four terrorists.
Are the hotel guests based on real people?
Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) and David (Armie Hammer), a well-to-do couple, and Vasili (Jason Isaacs), a Russian businessman, are also at the center of the action in Hotel Mumbai. All of them are guests caught up in the attacks trying desperately to make it out alive. All three are fictionalized, although, like Arjun, many of their traits and actions are based on those of real people. According to Maras, Zahra and David’s characters are an amalgam of two different real couples caught in the attacks. One real-life couple inspired the scene in which Zahra and David are taken hostage by the terrorists, while the other was faced with a similar predicament to Zahra and David’s in the movie — deciding to split up during the attacks in order to give their young child a better chance of having at least one parent make it out alive. Vasili’s character, also fictionalized, is an amalgam of two people: a wealthy businessman and an ex-special forces operative who were both in the Taj during the attacks.
For Maras, the choice to fictionalize these characters seemed more respectful to the privacy of those who survived the attacks, as well as the memory of those who didn’t. “It’s something that we tried to approach with as much sensitivity as we could,” Maras tells TIME. “Obviously blood is spilled on the floor — people have died and there are very pronounced memories of these attacks.”
Who was Chef Hemant Oberoi?
The Taj Hotel’s executive chef, Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher), is another of Hotel Mumbai’s lead characters. Throughout the film, he remains remarkably calm during the crisis and does his best to keep his guests and staff safe. Oberoi is in fact a real person — he served as executive chef at the Taj for decades and is known as one of India’s premier cooking stars. For the filmmakers, keeping Oberoi’s biographical details intact wasn’t much of a choice; there was no way to fictionalize his iconic character. “Even though he might not be world-famous, he’s well known in India,” says Maras. “Everyone would have known who we were talking about.”
Did the Taj Staff actually make the sacrifices they make in the film?
One of Hotel Mumbai‘s central motifs is the bravery of the hotel staff, who go to extraordinary lengths to protect their guests. This selflessness is not an invention. Following the attacks, there were reports of kitchen employees literally standing in the way of bullets for their guests, and staff who, having escaped, chose to go back into the hotel to help guests get out.
“I simply couldn’t believe that you would have not one or two, but the entire staff of the Taj Hotel spontaneously, pretty much en masse, remain to protect their guests,” says Maras. “It was something I couldn’t get my head around. Who were these people and what drove them to do this?” Those acts of extreme bravery, he says, were a major part of his inspiration to make the film.
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