Ten days out from shooting the final few scenes of “Hotel Mumbai,” a dramatic thriller based on the 2008 terrorist attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai, Australian-born writer-director Anthony Maras cut off the tip of his thumb on the blade of a whirling fan at a local bar.
“Dev Patel, who stars in the film, found it on the ground of the bar while I was in the car with a cocktail napkin wrapped around my thumb going to a hospital 45 minutes away in the middle of the night in Mumbai,” says Maras, who shot his debut feature, which also stars Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi and Jason Isaacs, in India and Adelaide, Australia, where he lives. “Dev wound up getting one of the top plastic surgeons in Mumbai to fix it as best he could.”
The time he spent recuperating from the accident ultimately helped the production, says Maras, whose short films have garnered multiple Australian Academy Awards.
“During the time away, I was able to go through the rushes and see what we missed,” he says. “We came back in January and got to do more shooting. It was all for the better.”
The cinematic result is a film that is as visually breathtaking as it is emotionally electrifying, an edge-of-your-seat study on the effects of tragedy and violence on a group of strangers banding together in a fight to survive the unthinkable.
“The starting point was trying to honor the people who lived through this experience, and also the people who didn’t,” says Maras, who logged countless hours researching the attacks and interviewing survivors. “Really, it came down to spending a lot of time listening, because it is a film based on a true story, and it is something you want to get right. That was kind of our guiding light.”