‘Hotel Mumbai’ dubbed an ‘anthem of resistance’

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A Border Security Forces (BSF) soldier takes photographs of his colleague in front of Taj Mahal hotel, which was one of the targets of the Mumbai 2008 attacks, which killed 166 people, in Mumbai, India, in this November 26, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
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(L-R) Anthony Maras, Dev Patel, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, John Collee, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs attend "Hotel Mumbai" Press Conference during 2018 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018
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‘Hotel Mumbai’ dubbed an ‘anthem of resistance’

  • The film, which also uses television footage of the siege, brought some of them to tears when they watched the finished version for the first time
  • The siege at the Taj Mahal Hotel was one of a coordinated series of attacks across Mumbai in which more than 160 people were killed

TORONTO: “Hotel Mumbai,” about the 2008 attack on a hotel in the Indian city, received a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and the cast and filmmakers said they believe that’s because of the human portrayal not only of the victims but also the perpetrators.`
The film, starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs, recounts the attack on Mumbai’s luxury Taj Mahal hotel, where dozens of guests and hotel workers were killed during a three-day siege carried out by Pakistan-based Islamist militants.
Most of the film is told from the point of view of those trapped in the hotel, and also from that of the gunmen.
“You had a whole lot of people from different backgrounds, racial, ethnic, from different socioeconomic groups who came together in the face of real adversity to survive,” Australian director Anthony Maras told a news conference on Saturday.
“As Dev (Patel) said yesterday, ‘it’s an anthem of resistance.’“
The cast said the film, which also uses television footage of the siege, brought some of them to tears when they watched the finished version for the first time. Hammer, who plays American hotel guest David, said that the script was “dripping in humanity.”
“You see the toll the attack has on the guests and the staff of the hotel, but you also see it, really for the first time that I can think of, on the actual perpetrators,” Hammer said.
The Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s “nail-biting detail and ... an impressive you-are-there quality,” while The Wrap said it “delivers a show-stopping account.”
The siege at the Taj Mahal Hotel was one of a coordinated series of attacks across Mumbai in which more than 160 people were killed and hundreds wounded.
“Hotel Mumbai” follows a 2013 Bollywood film, “The Attacks of 26/11,” that was told from the point of view of the Mumbai police.


Egyptian enthusiasts get American wrestling off the ground

Updated 46 min 30 sec ago
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Egyptian enthusiasts get American wrestling off the ground

  • The self-declared wrestling federation lacks sponsors and its members spend their own money on organizing events
  • Despite the challenges, the wrestlers remain hopeful of one day achieving the fame enjoyed by professionals in the US

ISMAILIA, Egypt: In an Egyptian schoolyard, hundreds of fans watched as amateur fighters with painted faces and dramatic costumes recreated an American-style wrestling show.
With eyes blackened by make-up, “The King of the Night” readied to take on “Tiger,” clad in a leopard skin cape.
Under bright lights and blaring rock music, the duo took to the ring and the fight played out with a mix of athletic moves and careful choreography.
The rare spectacle at a village school near the city of Ismailia, on the banks of the Suez Canal, attracted a crowd of nearly 1,000 men, women and children.
The show was the brainchild of Ashraf Mahrous, who founded the self-declared Egyptian Federation of Professional Wrestling in 2012 and has since organized 22 events.
The group started with just eight fighters, including two women, but now boasts 50 amateurs from across Egypt — although it is still not an official body.
“The idea of wrestling started with performing fighting moves on the bed with my brother,” said 37-year-old Mahrous.
Three beds were broken in the process, forcing the boys to sleep on the floor.
Years later the strikingly-tall Mahrous now uses the wrestling name “Kabonga.”
He dressed in a suit and tie for the school show, which he had spent months preparing.
But the playground lacked space and, after just 10 minutes, the event was shut down due to overcrowding.
“We were not up to it,” co-organizer Ahmed Abdullah told the crowd through a microphone.
“We had hoped to present something new to the village of Abu Saltan,” he added.
Mahrous broke down in tears as people left and the lights went off one by one.
“If there was money, we could offer seats to everyone and hire an event organizer,” he said.
The wrestling federation lacks sponsors and its members spend their own money on organizing events.
Most take place in clubs, but one is hosted by a Cairo children’s hospital.
“No-one succeeds here” in Egypt, one of the wrestlers whispered.
But despite the challenges, the wrestlers remain hopeful of one day achieving the fame enjoyed by professionals in the United States.
Momen Mohamed — who fights as “Commando” — said he has been passionate about American wrestling since he was a child.
“My favorite is Rey Mysterio, because of his light movements on the ropes and his fighting style in the ring,” he said.
US wrestling is aired in cafes in working-class Egyptian neighborhoods, allowing enthusiasts to watch icons, including John Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker.
Global wrestling stars make a fortune from their performances, while they also cash in on spin-off films and adverts.
Their Egyptian counterparts are just starting to get noticed, helped by a Facebook page which has 40,000 fans.
Samir Ibrahim, a 22-year-old student who goes by “Ninja” in the ring, was thrilled when he was recognized after appearing on local television.
“I ran into people who told me: ‘You were on TV, we know you, you’re Ninja who wrestles,’” he said, wearing a mask and dressed head-to-foot in black.
The struggle to find suitable facilities has not put Mahrous off.
He built a makeshift ring by his family home in a nearby village, where he trains amateur wrestlers surrounded by fields and part-complete red-brick houses.
The wrestlers’ enthusiasm was clear at the school event, where 27-year-old Mohamed was steadfast in his ambitions.
“I always hope that Egypt will have a professional wrestling federation,” he said, after entering the arena as “The Lumberjack” and wielding an axe.
“I won’t abandon my dream.”