Also known as ‘The Mumbai Siege: 4 Days of Terror’, the film attempts to recreate the ghastly, inhuman attacks on the iconic Taj Mahal hotel which claimed 166 innocent lives. The four-day siege on the Taj was just one of many such strikes, though it was the one which was the one to have captured world attention, and sympathy.
A two-hour-plus film, shot mostly in Australia, and made largely by Australians, fails to do justice to the atrocity and the enormity of the attacks. Against the backdrop of revellers splashing around a festival of colours, the film opens – and closes – with a voice-over asking questions about God. It proceeds to the guests in the hotel, and then to two of the attackers, though for almost a half hour we are shown only their boots and guns.
Director Lliam Worthington fleshes out a few of the characters – Irishman Sean (Joseph Mahler Taylor), the Turkish siblings Ede and Selim who have taken refuge in a French-Jewish journalist’s room, an Oriental Asian businessman Yang (Quentin Tung) and an Australian rockstar (Nathan Kaye) – ultimately most of them landing up in a single room.
Worthington seems to place a little more emphasis, than necessary, on arguments borne out of cultural and religious differences between them. The scenes between a young girl Aliya and her granddad (Sukhraj Deepak) provide the emotional quotient otherwise lacking in the film. The two attackers, Yaseen and druggie Ahmed (Australian Kabeer Singh and Korean Kumar), are shown dutifully taking orders from their Pakistani handler (voice of Philip John), with the latter holding out promises of eternal fame for both.
It’s a weak screenplay with the plot being ridden with as many bullet holes in the walls of the hotel. Eg. why did the filmmakers have to cushion the impact of the situation by overly humanising the attackers? Much of what happened during those days is missing or is mitigated. The Indian response to the attackers is glaringly absent too. Ashley Barron’s cinematography is unobjectionable and the background score by Thomas Ronch blends well with the developments on screen, while Mathew Morgan’s sound recording captures beautifully the thunderous roar of the gunfire.