Hotel Mumbai filmed between Mumbai and Adelaide
The film adds to the growing number of productions shot between Australia and India, such as 2017's Lion. Vividly recounting the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India, Hotel Mumbai depicts how ordinary people from all walks of life responded to the intense situation.
The narrative centres around dedicated hotel staff who chose to risk their lives to protect their guests. The renowned chef Hemant Oberoi, who has cooked for the likes of the Obamas is portrayed by Anupam Kher (The Big Sick, Mrs Wilson) and a Sikh waiter played by Dev Patel (Lion, Slumdog Millionaire). Guests caught in the attacks include a desperate couple played by Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name, On the Basis of Sex) and Nazann Boniadi (Counterpart, Homeland) who are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child.
Director Anthony Maras and writer John Collee spent one month in the Taj workshopping the story, where they explain “the core of the film" revealed itself. They add that “the locations were really the linchpin as to whether the film was going to succeed or not. The film is an attempt to place the audience in the belly of the beast, right in the epicentre of one of these attacks”. “It’s one of the most opulent hotels on earth but we weren’t able to shoot the interiors of the real Taj, because it’s still a fully functioning hotel”
The film shot extensively in Mumbai, with production services handled by India’s Take One Productions. All of the kitchen interiors and the bowels of the hotel were all shot in an unfunctioning five-star hotel in Mumbai but real exterior shots of the Taj do feature in the film. Several scenes were filmed at the real-life sites where the events occurred. In the film’s opening scene, the gunmen arrive by boat at the same beachside fishing village where they landed in 2008 and scenes were captured at the Chhatrapati Shivati Terminus railways station. Local extras were also employed in Mumbai to add authenticity.
Alongside taking a starring role, Dev Patel served as an executive producer, noting that “When there was talk of a move happening I made it clear that I was very interested. And I’ve been more vocal in the process of making this film that I have with really anything that I’ve done, to make sure we try and do it right”.
In addition to the Indian shoot, interior scenes were shot in Adelaide, Australia. Maras clarifies “Australia was a good place to incubate the production, where we had everyone in a very controlled environment for hotel-room setups, so that the crew and cast could get to know one another. By the time we got to India to do the bulk of the production, it was a well-oiled machine, we knew where we were at and everyone had confidence in the project”.
Filming took place at Adelaide Studios between August and September 2016 and the production team included over 350 South Australian Heads of Department, cast, crew and Extras. Adelaide post-production company Kojo worked on post-supervision, picture and sound services and visual effects.
Screen Australia provided production support and the South Australian government boosted South Australian Film Corporation's funds by AUD1 million in order to attract feature films, such as Hotel Mumbai to the state. Various production investment is provided by the South Australian Film Corporation, including a post-production, digital and visual effects rebate for productions spending over AUD250 in South Australia, and the Screen Production Investment that provides a grant of 10% of total South Australian Expenditure to projects shot substantially in the state and a 4.95% payroll exemption.
In Great Britain the film is available from 3 May 2019 by Sky Cinema and NowTV.
Image Credits : Bleecker Street
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