‘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.


Crazy in love? Meet the Japanese man ‘married’ to a hologram

Updated 12 November 2018
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Crazy in love? Meet the Japanese man ‘married’ to a hologram

  • Around 40 guests watched as he tied the knot with Miku, present in the form of a cat-sized stuffed doll
  • ‘I’m not seeking these in real women. It’s impossible’

TOKYO: Akihiko Kondo’s mother refused an invitation to her only son’s wedding in Tokyo this month, but perhaps that isn’t such a surprise: he was marrying a hologram.
“For mother, it wasn’t something to celebrate,” said the soft-spoken 35-year-old, whose “bride” is a virtual reality singer named Hatsune Miku.
In fact, none of Kondo’s relatives attended his wedding to Miku — an animated 16-year-old with saucer eyes and lengthy aquamarine pigtails — but that didn’t stop him from spending two million yen ($17,600) on a formal ceremony at a Tokyo hall.
Around 40 guests watched as he tied the knot with Miku, present in the form of a cat-sized stuffed doll.
“I never cheated on her, I’ve always been in love with Miku-san,” he said, using a honorific that is commonly employed in Japan, even by friends.
“I’ve been thinking about her every day,” he said a week after the wedding.
Since March, Kondo has been living with a moving, talking hologram of Miku that floats in a $2,800 desktop device.
“I’m in love with the whole concept of Hatsune Miku but I got married to the Miku of my house,” he said, looking at the blue image glowing in a capsule.
He considers himself an ordinary married man — his holographic wife wakes him up each morning and sends him off to his job as an administrator at a school.
In the evening, when he tells her by cellphone that he’s coming home, she turns on the lights. Later, she tells him when it’s time to go to bed.
He sleeps alongside the doll version of her that attended the wedding, complete with a wedding ring that fits around her left wrist.
Kondo’s marriage might not have any legal standing, but that doesn’t bother him. He even took his Miku doll to a jewelry shop to get the ring.
And Gatebox, the company that produces the hologram device featuring Miku, has issued a “marriage certificate,” which certifies that a human and a virtual character have wed “beyond dimensions.”
Kondo’s not alone either: he says Gatebox has issued more than 3,700 certificates for “cross-dimension” marriages and some people have sent him supportive messages.
“There must be some people who can’t come forward and say they want to hold a wedding. I want to give them a supportive push,” he says.
Kondo’s path to Miku came after difficult encounters with women as an anime-mad teenager.
“Girls would say ‘Drop dead, creepy otaku!’,” he recalled, using a Japanese term for geeks that can carry a negative connotation.
As he got older, he says a woman at a previous workplace bullied him into a nervous breakdown and he became determined never to marry.
In Japan, that wouldn’t be entirely unusual nowadays. While in 1980, only one in 50 men had never married by the age of 50, that figure is now one in four.
But eventually Kondo realized he had been in love with Miku for more than a decade and decided to marry her.
“Miku-san is the woman I love a lot and also the one who saved me,” he said.
And while Kondo says he is happy to be friends with a “3D woman,” he has no interest in romance with one, no matter how much his mother pushes for it.
Two-dimensional characters can’t cheat, age or die, he points out.
“I’m not seeking these in real women. It’s impossible.”
Even in a country obsessed with anime, Kondo’s wedding shocked many. But he wants to be recognized as a “sexual minority” who can’t imagine dating a flesh-and-blood woman.
“It’s simply not right, it’s as if you were trying to talk a gay man into dating a woman, or a lesbian into a relationship with a man.”
“Diversity in society has been long called for,” he added.
“It won’t necessarily make you happy to be bound to the ‘template’ of happiness in which a man and woman marry and bear children.”
“I believe we must consider all kinds of love and all kinds of happiness.”