Hotel Mumbai is a blow-by-blow account of the siege of the Taj hotel in 2008, when a group of 10 terrorists launched simultaneous attacks on several high-profile targets in India's biggest city. Four gunmen invaded the hotel, a fabulously luxurious palace where, as the head chef tells his staff in the opening scenes, the guest is God.
Dev Patel plays a Sikh waiter called Arjun. We first see him with his wife and daughter at home, a domestic nest full of love. It is also a slum. On the fateful day, Arjun is nearly sacked from his job. Fortunately, for the people his cool head and determination will help save over the course of the next three days, he isn't.
The Taj's grandeur was a source of pride: it was the first building in Mumbai to be wired for electricity, played host to rock stars and politicians. Even one of the terrorists, in a line taken from the real attackers' recorded conversations with their command base, describes it as paradise.
"That for me is mind-blowing, you know," says Patel. "That idea that a place at the Taj was an ideal and what the attack meant to Indians."
Arjun is a composite of the imaginary and several real people. "It was a conscious decision from the start how we dealt with the true-life stories," says the film's director Australian Anthony Maras.
"Pretty much everything you see in the film happened to somebody. There was a waiter who helped shepherd people out but here he is combined with another person who joined with police."