A new film, “Hotel Mumbai,” tells the story of the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. It is, I assure you, a film you want to see. It is more exciting than that action film playing next door in your town, better made than the films promoted by the Academy Awards, and there is more truth in it than you can find in the mainstream media.
The film begins with the jihadis entering Mumbai and fanning out to strike at a number of places around the city, but it quickly focuses on the horrific events at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is an astute decision by the director, Anthony Maras. He finds in those events a story of terror, heroism, and unspeakable evil. He plunges you into the action and you are made to live intensely with the characters as they make agonizing life or death decisions in the strange environment of a luxury hotel suddenly transformed into the place of a waking nightmare for everyone there, guests and staff alike.
The structure of the film parallels that of Clint Eastwood’s excellent offering on the same subject, “The 15:17 to Paris.” Heavily armed jihadis select locations where many defenseless civilians are gathered—a train in France and a hotel in India—in order to gain paradise for themselves by the mass slaughter of people they consider to be infidels. Both films take you deep into the story, and then return you to your day-to-day reality by ending with real footage of the actual celebrations that followed the ordeals. That is to say, the films end by returning you to that day-to-day reality of yours in which terrible events like these are sure to recur, here, there, and anywhere.
This is the first feature length film by Anthony Maras, who also co-wrote the script and was an executive producer. The pacing is flawless, the performances are powerful, and this important story is masterfully told. I am inspired to keep an eye out for films by this director from now on.
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