Hotel Mumbai

Aida Vucic | 26/03/2019

Anthony Maras, a first time feature film maker, perfectly crafts a film which recreates the horrors of the 2008 coordinated Mumbai attacks that resulted in over 150 deaths across the city over the course of three days.


While these attacks occurred scattered throughout the city, the film itself focuses on the bloody siege at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and a collection of its guests and employees caught up in the mayhem. This includes Arjun (Dev Patel), a kitchen worker, head chef Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher), new parents Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) and David (Armie Hammer) and their nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), who are all trapped within the hotel. Maras gracefully weaves the storyline of these characters into one story, ensuring never to stray too far and holding strong to the thread.  


The film could have easily become a dramatized piece of heroics and romance, but thankfully instead it is a violent depiction of the horror that occurred during the three day siege. The shifts can be jarring, as a relatively innocent scene is abruptly interrupted with loud abrasive explosions and images of the aftermath. Each bomb, gunshot and explosion feel painfully real.


Interestingly, Maras provides some semblance of sympathy towards the young terrorist, a feat most filmmakers would rather avoid or fail to achieve. The performances were as we would expect from these credible actors; powerful, but given Maras’ method of storytelling, it is easy to overlook these actors as you get caught up in the mayhem of the attacks, spending your time wrapping your head around the chaos that is ensuing.


While it may make some uncomfortable it is an undeniably impressive showcase of a filmmakers ability to capture the gravity of such horror and their refusal to succumb to the pressures of creating just another Hollywood war lust film.


Hotel Mumbai is a tremendous film that is unapologetically relentless in its portrayal of the Mumbai attacks.