Directors – Anthony Maras
Producer – Basil Iwanyk, Gary Hamilton, Andrew Ogilvie, Jomon Thomas, Mike Gabrawy, Julie Ryan, Brian Hayes
It’s personal for us Indians, especially for those who lived in Mumbai during 26/11 when the city was under a terror attack.
Director Anthony Maras films the chillingly familiar stories that revolved around the meticulously planned attack when terrorists trained in Pakistan stealthily crept into Mumbai in 2008 and fanatically massacred people on the roads, at the station, in a restaurant frequented by foreigners and in two five-star hotels.
Since a film cannot afford the luxury of retelling every story about 26/11, Maras who has co-written the screenplay with John Collee, allows fact and fiction to segue and blur. But the focus is sharply on the hotel where the staffers showed exemplary valour in serving their guests and ensuring their safety even when they were under siege.
In reality, the terrorists who had the Jewish Nariman House on their itinerary had mercilessly killed the rabbi and his wife while their infant son was whisked away to safety by his nanny. At VT station, a humble policeman called Tukaram Ombale had lost his life grappling with one of the terrorists. But his courage had led to the capture of one live terrorist. Tales like these have been tweaked by Maras and placed inside the hotel.
Also Read – Class of ’83 – Movie Review
The essence of the horror that seized Mumbai and held it to ransom, the delay in the arrival of rescue teams that had to come from Delhi, and the bravery of the local police against daunting odds, is distilled and well narrated. Maras includes the part played by the media outside that conveyed information, perhaps unwittingly, from guests inside the hotel to the world outside where handlers used it to tell their men where the guests were sheltered.
And the fact that the trail led unfailingly to Pakistan, comes through backed by facts.
A varied bunch of characters drive home the horrors of that attack and also set the terrorist apart from the non-terrorists in the community. A Muslim woman who’s clear that she’s “not one of them”, a boorish German guest who turns out to be quite brave, a baby with fever who’s wailing and must be hushed and rushed to safety with terror perpetrators on the prowl outside the door, it’s a mix of human stories.
Anupam Kher as chef Hemant Oberoi who is a flesh and blood Taj Hotel stalwart and Dev Patel as a young fictional staffer who has a family outside that’s losing hope of seeing him again, come together and hold the fort.