When recreating for cinema such incidents of violence and terrorism that fittingly evoke no sympathy, choosing to humanise characters of terrorists can be a risky deal to pull off. However, in the Friday release, Hotel Mumbai — based on the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks — director Anthony Maras navigates this path, nonetheless.
A case in point being a scene where an injured gunman makes a phone call to his parents in Pakistan, enquiring if they had received the money for the mission he's currently on. Oblivious about the mission, the parents hope he succeeds, but inform him that they haven't received the money. In that moment, the young gunman wails in pain, knowing that despite his inevitable death, the deeds he'd committed amounted to nothing.
In a bid to back his decision, Maras tells mid-day, "We wanted to tell stories from multiple perspectives. When we started understanding the stories of the gunmen, we realised their backgrounds were similar. They belonged to impoverished families, lacked education and had tough lives. They were ideal prays for strategic fundamentalist brainwashing. We found out about indoctrination, and that was important to focus on. A large part of the discussion included how terrorists were created. They are regular human beings." He makes a case for himself when stating, "In one scene, a Muslim woman was able to ward off a gunman by praying. That's inspired from a real life incident."
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