Hotel Mumbai (2018) is a fictionalized account of the terrorist attack on the iconic Hotel Taj in Mumbai that happened on 26th November 2008. The film does a reasonable job of covering the terror unleashed by a handful of boys with sophisticated weapons on the metropolitan city of 15 million residents. On that line, I was expected more from the film but it came out being simple with only a few moments that took to your seat’s edge. It is available on the Zee5 streaming service.
The first few minutes of the film sets the mood well, showing how the gunmen were able to simply walk into their locations of choice with deadly weapons on hand and killing people with utter disregard or purpose. Then it focuses on the happenings in one location – the historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. We meet one of the head waiters Arjun (played by Dev Patel), his manager Oberoi (Anupam Kher), a couple of VIP guests including a celebrity Zahra Kashani, her husband, and a Russian businessman. The rest of the film is about how the hotel staff risks their lives to keep their guests safe from the gunmen who are on a rampage across floors with the police staying largely outside unable to do anything.
Movies in this genre like World Trade Center (2006) establish the main character(s) and keep following them through the day, here, Director Anthony Maras starts with that approach but dilutes the focus. At only a few moments we were made to worry for the life of Arjun or Oberoi, which was a failure for the screenplay. Had it told their story the movie would’ve been more thrilling.
The events of that fateful day have shaken every Indian who watched the terror on television, where a few gunmen exposed the weakness of a nuclear-armed country with over a million soldiers on the role. The decade since the day had led India to create a new rapid action task force across the country and strengthening the defense of its vast coastline.