Dev Patel plays Arjun in the new movie Hotel Mumbai. Based on true events, Arjun is a server and clerk at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai circa 2008 when a group of terrorists bring violence to the city. That includes invading the hotel and killing guests and staff, taking others hostage.
Arjun is one of several individuals who manage to evade death or capture. They band together to try and either escape the hotel or take down the attackers. While Arjun and the other staff are committed to protecting their guests, two visiting Americans just want to keep their newborn child safe.
Appropriately, the interior of a hotel room is featured on the first poster. The bathtub with flower petals, the elegant chair against the wall and more all convey the luxurious nature of the establishment. That’s countered, though, when you notice the discarded phone left on the chair and the bullet holes in the wall.
The second one-sheet ups the message of danger, showing the silhouette of an AK-47, the skyline of the city growing out of the top of the rifle. Headshots of the lead cast appear at the top while copy above those photos tells us we’re watching the events of a true story.
Much like many other dramas, the first trailer starts off by showing a devoted husband and father – in this case Arjun – leaving his family for what he thinks will be a normal day at work. We’re introduced to the operations of the Taj Hotel and some of its current guests before we see terrorists begin to wreak havoc on the city of Mumbai, eventually coming to the hotel. Taken hostage, the guests and staff eventually begin to work together to take on the attackers as they see fighting back or risking escape as the only way to survive.
Online and Social
In addition to the usual mix of the trailer and other content, Bleecker Street’s official website has plenty of information and background on the real events that inspired the movie. That’s good and exactly the kind of primer and education that should be offered when a film is based on a true story.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’m directly aware of, though there was likely some online advertising done. If not there probably will be as the movie opens and expands.
Media and Publicity
A strong positive reaction resulted from the movie’s screening at the Toronto Film Festival. In late February Bleecker Street put out a featurette including comments from Patel about how he remembers the events depicted in the story and wanted to be part of the project.
Clips were released a few weeks later showing pivotal moments from the story including the hostages rallying together and risking action in order to survive.
Patel and costar Armie Hammer made a few TV and other media appearances as well to talk up the movie.
The campaign never really plays to its strength, among those being Patel’s charm and charisma. While the true story is dramatic and gripping in its own right, the marketing only communicates that fitfully, getting too bogged down in the melodrama of the characters’ fight to escape. What’s missing is anything that makes this story unique and compelling, an area that could have used Patel’s persona and likability.
Picking Up the Spare
The movie’s director spoke about how releasing it so soon after a terrorist attack wasn’t ideal, but those are so common there’s no good time ever. He also doesn’t want you to think the movie takes it too easy on the terrorists.
Patel got the feature profile treatment.