The filmmaker of an upcoming drama on the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai is on the American trade magazine Variety list of 10 Directors to Watch. In an interview with Variety, Hotel Mumbai director Anthony Maras talks about getting injured during the shoot in Mumbai and poring over hours of research to get the story right.
The four-day siege by Pakistani terrorists that started in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, and claimed over 160 lives, ranks as one of the deadliest such incidents in the world. The incident inspired Ram Gopal Varma’s The Attacks of 26/11 (2013) and Nicolas Saada’s French-language Taj Mahal (2015). Hotel Mumbai stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs and Suhail Nayyar, and appears to be set largely at the Taj Mahal hotel, which was one of the deadliest sites of the attack.
Anupam Kher plays former Taj Mahal Hotel chef Hemant Oberoi in the movie, which has also been shot in Adelaide in Australia. Hotel Mumbai was premiered in the market section at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017, and will be released sometime in 2018.
Maras lost the tip of his thumb when it got lodged in a fan during the shoot, he told Variety. “Dev Patel, who stars in the film, found it on the ground of the bar while I was in the car with a cocktail napkin wrapped around my thumb going to a hospital 45 minutes away in the middle of the night in Mumbai,” Maras told the publication. “Dev wound up getting one of the top plastic surgeons in Mumbai to fix it as best he could.” Maras spent his recovery time on studying the rushes, which led to further shoots in Mumbai in January, he added.
Variety described the movie as “visually breathtaking”, “emotionally electrifying” and an “an edge-of-your-seat study on the effects of tragedy and violence on a group of strangers banding together in a fight to survive the unthinkable”.
Maras has to his credit the short films Azadi (2005), about Afghan refugees in Australia who have fled Taliban rule, and the award-winning The Palace, about a Cypriot family fleeing Turkish troops in 1974. Hotel Mumbai has been co-written by Maras and John Collee, and has been inspired by the 2009 documentary Surviving Mumbai. “The starting point was trying to honor the people who lived through this experience, and also the people who didn’t,” Maras told Variety.