When hosts become hostages, hell goes berserk

‘Hotel Mumbai’ in New Zealand Cinemas from March 14

Venkat Raman

If you had followed the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 in which 174 people were killed and more than 300 wounded, you will find ‘Hotel Mumbai,’ a chilling and angry reminder to the multiple murders. You will be even more enraged that ten years on, the culprits remain at large.

‘Hotel Mumbai,’ will be screened in New Zealand Cinemas from March 14, 2019. For more details including cost and times, please visit www.flicks.co.nz

I was among the members of the Media at a special screening of the film in Auckland on Monday, February 18, 2019. Although I reported the gory scenes and murder of hundreds of people in Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation from August 2, 1990 to February 24, 1991, the mood at seeing ‘Hotel Mumbai’ was sombre and one of utter grief.

Anupam Kher traumatised

To Anupam Kher, one of the finest and most versatile thespians of Indian Cinema and Theatre, who portrayed the role of Chef Hemant Oberoi, it was a traumatic experience.

Speaking to Indian Newslink from New York, he described the Mumbai incident was among the biggest tragedies that India has ever experienced.

“The terrorists attacks on and inside Taj Mahal Hotel must be told.”

Although Mr Kher followed the tragic events as they developed, listening to the story written “with passion” by Maras and Collee was horrifying.

“I was honoured to perform the role Hemant Oberoi, The Taj Mahal Chef. As the film progressed, I went through a volley of emotions including anger, sadness and helplessness. My heart went out to the victims and their unfortunate families,” he said.

He met Mr Oberoi at the World Premier of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2018.

“It was most humbling experience in my life,” Mr Kher said.

Tribute to the dead

He said that ‘Hotel Mumbai’ is a tribute to all those who lost their lives during the terrorists’ attacks, to their families and to those who were injured.

“The Hotel’s General Manager (Karambir Kang)  is my friend. His Neeti (40), sons  Uday (12) and Samar (5) were among the 31 persons killed. The film is a tribute to all those who suffered not only because of the attacks in Mumbai but everywhere,” Mr Kher said.

Other attacks

Eight of the attacks occurred in South Mumbai at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, The Oberoi Trident, The Taj Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, The Nariman House Jewish Community Centre, the Metro Cinema, and in a lane behind the Times of India building and St. Xavier’s College.

There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle. By the early morning of November 28, 2008, all sites except that of Taj Mahal Hotel had been secured by the Mumbai Police Department and security forces.

On November 29, 2008, India’s National Security Guards (NSG) conducted ‘Operation Black Tornado’ to flush out the remaining attackers; it culminated in the death of the last remaining attackers at the Taj Hotel and ended the attacks.

About Hotel Mumbai

An Indo-Aussie-American production, the film was directed by Anthony Maras (‘The Palace’ 2011) based on true incidents written by John Collee (‘The Patriarch’ 2016) and Maras.

The members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organisation based in Pakistan carried out a series of coordinated shooting and bombing attacks over four days in different parts of Mumbai, from Wednesday, November 26, 2008 to Saturday, November 29, 2018.

The film stars Anupam Kher, Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Jason Issacs, Suhail Nayyar and Natasha Liu Bordizzo.

The film had its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival on October 10, 2018.

Along with New Zealand, the film will be screened in Australia on March 14, 2019 and in the United States on March 29, 2019, and on Netflix for India and Southeast Asia and in the UK on Sky Cinema and NowTV on May 3, 2019.

To millions of people across the world, ‘Hotel Mumbai’ (an Indian/Australian/American film) will be a dark reminder of the terrorists attacks inside Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, known as 26/11.

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