HOTEL MUMBAI – Review by Susan Granger

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On Nov. 26, 2008, a small band of young jihadists from Lashkar-e-Taiba, armed with automatic weapons and grenades, launched a savage attack on Mumbai, India’s largest city, aiming at 12 separate targets, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station and the Café Leopold, culminating at the sprawling, ultra-luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

Following explicit telephone directions from “Brother Bull,” based in Pakistan, the Islamic militants were ordered to kill as many “infidels” as possible and take the wealthy ones hostage.

Like David (Armie Hammer), an American architect, and his aristocratic British/Iranian wife Zahra (Nazanin Bonaidi), whose baby is trapped upstairs with their nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), and Vasili (Jason Isaacs), a vulgar Russian misogynist.

Guided by gallant Head Chef Hermant Oberoi (Anupam Kher), the loyal, hardworking hotel staff is determined to shelter and save as many visitors as possible, repeating the hospitality workers’ mantra, “The guest is god.” As the story evolves, one courageous waiter, Arjun (Dev Patel), rises to heroic status amid the horrific violence.

What’s significant about Arjun is that he’s a Sikh. Over the years, the Sikh community has experienced hate crimes, workplace discrimination, school bullying, along with racial and religious profiling. When empathetic Arjun realizes his turban, known as a “pagri,” scares foreigners into thinking he’s one of ‘them,’ he explains its significance and, ultimately, offers to remove it.

Inspired by the Emmy-nominated documentary Saving Mumbai, screenwriter John Collee and director Anthony Maras create a contemporary disaster movie, evoking memories of The Towering Inferno.

Much of their dialogue was taken verbatim from transcripts of intercepted mobile phone calls between the callous terrorists and their bloodthirsty handlers during the siege, and the filmmakers utilize actual television footage taken at that time.

FYI: Mumbai’s opulent Taj Palace Hotel was completely restored by 2010 but filming took place primarily in Adelaide, Australia.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Hotel Mumbai is a suspenseful 7 – a desperate fight for survival.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.