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Review Hotel Mumbai (2018)

By Anthony Maras | USA, India, Australia
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It’s not fair to call “Hotel Mumbai”, exploitative — a word I personally never truly understand. Is showing the horrors of a real tragedy automatically renders your film to being cheap and insensitive? I don’t think so. To me exploitative is when you take advantage of such tragedies and present it in a disrespectful way, either as mere entertainment or worse yet, as something positive. And it’s safe to say that “Hotel Mumbai” doesn’t fall to either category.
The film itself as you may know centers around the terrorist attack against Mumbai, India, back in 2008. It was one of the biggest most coordinated military attack on a major city by a radical group and really took a blow to India’s tension filled conflict between the country’s Hindu population and the Muslims.
Though some comedic relieves and overdramatic moments slipped through, as a whole the film is a harrowing experience to watch. The violence were graphic, yes, but it’s meant to emphasize on the horrifying experience it must’ve been for the victims to see those events unfolding right before their eyes. And the main cast do contain several non-Indian actors (a complain I’ve read a lot) but they clearly meant to be there as an alternative perspective of looking at the event.
Which brings me into another point I love: how the film unfolds through various perspective. This even includes the terrorists themselves, which though have some problematic moments (the comedy are especially poorly placed), still gave an interesting look on radicalism and how disgusting it is. However I’m really glad to see how much attention were given to the Indian characters, especially the staff of the Taj Hotel who in real life were also real heroes who put the lives of the guests above themselves. The best performances also came from them with Dev Patel and Anupam Kher being the highlights (they’re both the two most sympathetic characters to me).
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“Hotel Mumbai” is a cinematic translation of a harrowing event, yes. It’s also true that it may soften some blows by giving us tiny bits of comedy and drama to keep the film from being completely inaccessible to most. However, it’s not fair to call it exploitative not cheap; for throughout its runtime, it does nothing but to stay as truthful and respectful to the people who were involved in the unfortunate tragedy. And perhaps in these days where tragedies happen so frequently, a film that shows some good ol’ fashion heroism is what we really need to get through the day.
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