Movie: Hotel Mumbai
Cast: Anupam Kher, Dev Patel
Director: Anthony Maras
Rating: 4 stars
It happened to be the night of 26th November 2008. Team India was batting against England in a crucial ODI encounter and were on the verge of whitewashing the English team in the series. The mood and set up was all for celebration and merrymaking. But destiny had other plans for India and its financial capital, Mumbai, which is regarded as the ‘City of Dreams’. 10 gunmen stormed into the city following the instructions of their ‘Bull’, aka ‘Maalik’, who had brainwashed them successfully in the name of ‘Jihad’ to carry out an attack on 12 prime locations in Mumbai. They made their way through the sea shore and attacked multiple locations of South Mumbai, the likes of the Leopold Café, Nariman Point, Cama Hospital, Oberoi Hotel, CST station and the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel of Mumbai. Several people died and many were left injured and the wounds are still fresh in every Indian’s mind despite it being 11 years now. Anthony Maras’s ‘Hotel Mumbai’ deals with this particular incident and how the principal chef of the Taj Hotel, Mr. Hemant Oberoi, and his team lived up to the Taj’s image of ‘Guest is God’ and gave their best shot to save as many lives as possible. Let’s read to find out more.
The opening sequence deals a bit with establishing the characters. Arjun (Dev Patel) and Anupam Kher (Chef Hemant Oberoi) are preparing to serve their special guests at the Taj Hotel. Their most salient and pertinent guests for the night include David (Armie Hammer) and Zhara (Nazannin Boniadi) along with their new-born baby and her Nanny, whose name is Sally. Another eminent guest includes the Russian supremo, Vasili (Jason Isaacs). Arjun has been given the task to serve the couple and Vasili at the restaurant by Hemant Oberoi. By then, the terrorists have stormed into Mumbai and have already created a devastating situation at a luxurious South Mumbai café and Mumbai’s lifeline, CST Station, by getting into a killing spree. After killing numerous innocent souls at the two venues, the two groups of terrorists of CST station and Leopold Café together enter Hotel Taj to resume their bloody mission. Soon the guests hear noises of bombing and grenades and Arjun spots from the restaurant window that the terrorists are inside the hotel. He immediately requests and persuades all his guests to hide underneath the tables to save themselves. But Arjun’s sharp presence of mind puts the thought into his head that if he and the guests stay here for too long, none of them will survive. That’s why Arjun gets into a call with Hemant Oberoi to ask what should be done to ensure the safety of their guests. Hemant instructs Arjun to escort the guests through the back stairs and bring them to the Chamber’s Lounge which was a safe hidey-hole and refuge at the hotel for the time being. Although everyone follows Arjun’s advice, a worried father in David cannot let his little baby and Nanny die in their hotel room and hence, against everyone’s advice, decides to sneak past into their hotel room. Although he manages to sneak inside the room successfully, he fails to come out of the room successfully and is caught by the terrorists as a hostage while his baby Cameron and Sally are stuck in a closet. Hemant Oberoi simultaneously is clueless about how to go about things when he figures out that the NSG Commandos are still in Delhi and will take time to reach, whereas the local police simply aren’t trained or equipped well enough to battle against the terrorists’ AK-47s, AK-56s & grenades. The escaping game continues for the longest time. Vasili and Zhara too don’t pay heed to Arjun’s advice and try their luck in escaping, only to be held hostage by the terrorists. Meanwhile, Police officer D.C Vam and his men have made their way into the hotel and with Arjun’s help have entered the CCTV room to track down the movement of the terrorists. Hemant Oberoi and his team, including Arjun, manage to successfully escort many of the trapped guests out of the hotel, while some are unfortunate enough to be in front of the terrorist’s bullets and can’t make their way out of the hotel.
Finally, the special forces and the NSG commandos find their way into the hotel and gun down the remaining terrorists by sending a loud and clear message that it is eventually the good that will always get the better of the evil forces. The climax deals with how Zhara eventually makes the cut after being spared by a terrorist due to reciting a Muslim prayer and gets to unite with her new born baby Cameron and her Nanny, Sally. Arjun’s wife too is on cloud 9 when she realizes that Arjun is safe and alive. A dedicated and high-spirited Taj Hotel staff are seen opening their services to their guests within just 3 months from the time of attack. The closing scene shows a beautiful memorial to the staff and guests who witnessed the real battle and braved their way throughout the uphill task.
IWMBuzz Verdict: There is literally not a single moment or frame which you would want to miss when you watch the movie. Right from the very beginning till the end sequence and frame, your eyes will remain fixated throughout as you empathize with the victims who had to bear all of the torment and affliction. Director Anthony Maras gives you an insight into Mumbai like never before, and the way he goes about with his shots to the editing, where we see a fine-tuning between including both the reel as well as the real shots, is simply marvellous. It makes you feel the horrendous 56 hours live in front of your screen and no matter how deadly that might sound, if the director successfully manages to do that, he’s a winner. The cinematography and the use of sound effects is fabulous and it enhances the audio effect and impact. The art direction department does its best job and the way they have put up the set to match up to the grandeur and extravaganza of The Taj is simply glorious. As one of the dreaded terrorists Imran rightly points out in the movie in a scene, ‘Yeh toh Jannat Hai’? Truly, the art department has created a jannat. The performances of Dev Patel and Anupam Kher, especially Dev Patel and the way he has managed to ring in several layers into his expressions from scene to scene, is worthy of a lot of admiration. Overall, the movie pans out to be the right blend of everything when it comes to serving as an ode to Chef Hemant Oberoi and his team’s dauntlessness and valour in shielding and cushioning their guests. Overall, a MUST WATCH, if you have the eyes to bear the reality of torment and harshness which the world can sometimes have in store for you.