New York: "Hotel Mumbai", which recounts the November 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel in Mumbai by a group of LeT terrorists, honours the people's "resilience" in the face of a terror attack and underscores that the "religion of humanity" is most important, actor Anupam Kher said. Kher plays Hemant Oberoi, the hotel's celebrated executive chef and a real-life hero who demonstrated remarkable courage during the hours that the Taj was under attack, saving the lives of many of the hotel guests and staff.
"Hotel Mumbai", directed by Anthony Maras and also starring Dev Patel, premiered here Sunday. "It was a difficult film as an actor. It was emotionally exhausting and mentally disturbing," Kher told PTI in an interview.
During filming, the 64-year-old actor recalled, Maras would suddenly play recorded gunshots in the middle of a scene. He said it was difficult to imagine what people at Taj and in Mumbai must have gone through during the three days of the terror attack. "To me, the film is about the resilience of people, also about this amazing staff which were heroes and how they discovered their own courage... Sometimes you discover your own courage in a situation like this and find your own unsung heroes," he said.
Kher hailed Oberoi and the team at Taj as real-life heroes for their courage and bravery in the face of terror and then "resurrecting" the landmark hotel within months of the attack. "It's a courageous film. In a business where you want to make movies where everything is hunky-dory, it's important to make a film on this subject... The religion of humanity is much more important than anything else," he said. He said whenever there is a terror attack, "you discover that the whole world comes together."
He believes a film like "Hotel Mumbai" is sometimes required "to unsettle people because truth, compassion comes out sometimes by unsettling people. Unless the audience gets unsettled, nothing happens." "Cinema is a great tool, not necessarily for your own catharsis, laughter, sadness, tears but it's also an important platform for the audience to have a little more compassion for the victims," he said.
Kher also paid tributes to the fighting spirit of the people of Mumbai. "In India, people have a great sense of survival. Mumbai was back on its feet after the attacks. The scar is there but how well you deal with it is important," he said.
"Hotel Mumbai", also featuring Armie Hammer of "Call Me By Your Name" fame and "Homeland" star Nazanin Boniadi releases in the US on March 29.