26th November 2008. If you are a Mumbaikar(or even otherwise), this date will ring alarm bells. It was that fateful night 12 years back when a bunch of gunmen had brought Mumbai to its feet. And since then, this has remained the darkest chapter in the history of Mumbai. Now, I will let you in on a secret as well. That night I had lost someone too. I was in my engineering first year and this had scarred me to an extent. That attack soon became even more personal after I had joined the Tatas. Due to this incident, I had foregone all the movies that were made on this incident. But today on its 12th Anniversary I decided to take the plunge and watch Hotel Mumbai which is centered around the siege at The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. This review is dedicated to all the bravehearts – the NSG, the police, the firemen, the hotel staff but more importantly to humanity for its act of kindness, sensitivity and unity. So here we go.
Based on true events, Hotel Mumbai is the story centered around the attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel, the dark night which had witnessed attacks on CST station, Cama Hospital and Cafe Leopold. Now if you are thinking this is another one of those bravardo and chest thumping versions with the bad guys being killed and the good guys triumphing then you are mistaken. Infact that part has very limited screentime. This is a human story of survival in the face of fear. The screenplay is such that the tension is real. You would often find yourself placing your hands over your eyes, it is indeed palpable. You are introduced to a few characters with minimal back story of each of them. Probably, the makers wanted you to feel the tension without judging the characters based on their background. And in a few scenes you do get goosebumps all over. The undying spirit of mankind fighting for survival against all odds makes for a fascinating watch! So what you witness are examples of sacrifice, unity and selflessness. And there are other underlying issues of trust that you get to witness too. Masterful writing! The dialogues are extremely well written. The BGM is minimally but effectively used. The film has been shot extremely well. You often feel you are in the scene amidst the gunshots, such is the cinematography. Director Anthony Maras has done an excellent job evoking that element of fear yet also emphasising on the concept of universal brotherhood.
The performances are excellent. Naina Shareen shines in a cameo as Lani. Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Bree has her moments to shine. Nagesh Bhosle as DC Vam is excellent again in a cameo. Jason Isaacs as Vasili is snobbish to begin with but has a lovely arc towards the end. Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Sally is first rate. Anupam Kher as Chef Oberoi has wonderfully restrained. Armie Hammer as David has some good screen presence. The fear that he portrays on his face is the one to watch out for. Nazanin Boniadi as Zahra is outstanding, all her emotions are on point. Amandeep Singh as Imran is fabulous. He is one of the gunmen who shows a bit of vulnerability, excellently enacted. Suhail Nayyar as Abdullah is excellent. He is highly underrated and I wish he keeps getting meatier roles like these. Here, we will make you blil with anger, a job well done. Dev Patel as Arjun is the pick of the lot here. The scene where he informs a lady about the importance of his turban was goosebumps worthy. His performance truely deserves all the accolades.
Hotel Mumbai is a fitting tribute to the unsung heroes of 26/11. Even after 12 long years, that night is well etched in our minds. So many people lost their lives that night, we all may have lost that someone that night yet when we look back all we remember is the act of kindness and selflessness triumphing over evil amidst that undying spirit of Mumbai. If this doesn’t evoke that *universal* nationalism in you(for a lack of a better word), then there are little things that would. We remember, Mumbai remembers. Available on Zee5 and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!