Critics rave as homegrown thriller debuts
ADELAIDE film director Anthony Maras and the cast of South Australian-backed drama Hotel Mumbai earned a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival for their powerful portrayal of the deadly Mumbai terrorist attacks.
The SA Film Corporationbacked film, which co-stars lovebirds British star Dev Patel and Adelaide’s Tilda CobhamHervey, retells the devastating 2008 attacks in which 10 gunmen killed 164 people in a four-day onslaught.
Praise was swift for Maras’s first feature film with Variety magazine’s Patrick Frater writing that the two-hour drama had made a “powerful connection” with the audience.
“The Australian-made film graphically depicts the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, in particular the Taj Hotel,” Frater wrote.
The movie, supported by Screen Australia, was shot over five weeks in Adelaide at the SA Film Corp, which was transformed into the hotel’s opulent interior.
Screen Daily’s Sarah Ward said the film “takes an equally tense and touching approach to India’s devastating terrorist attacks”.
The reaction was also glowing on Twitter, with viewers describing the film as a white-knuckle thriller that was brutal but also compassionate. Critic Jeff Sneider said the film marks Maras as a “major director to watch”. Frater reported that Patel, pictured below, who stars in the film as a junior chef who heroically guards hotel guests, was “choked up” after the screening. “I really don’t know what to say,” Variety reported him as telling the audience. “It didn’t pull any punches. It’s an anthem of resistance.” It was the first time that many of the cast, which included Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), Anupam Kher (Silver Linings Playbook) an Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), had seen the film. Maras then introduced the real-life chef, Hemant Oberoi, who was sitting in the crowd of the Prince of Wales Theatre and whose presence was met with raucous applause. “He is the reason I made the film,” Maras said, before revealing Oberoi. “He just got a plane in today and landed this morning.” Maras worked with SA producer Julie Ryan (Red Dog, Ten Canoes) on the film, which was rescued from the collapse of the Harvey Weinstein film empire.