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Dev Patel stayed with Mumbai's Sikh families to prepare Hotel Mumbai role

The British actor began his preparations for his character Arjun two months ahead of the shoot.

Our Correspondent

Dev Patel plays a fictional character, a waiter named Arjun, who is working under chef Hemant Oberoi in the upcoming film, Hotel Mumbai. Actor Anupam Kher plays the real-life chef and survivor of the 26/11 attacks at the Taj hotel. In the film, both Oberoi and Arjun risk their lives to ensure that the guests and staff evade the terrorists who invade the iconic Mumbai hotel.

Patel shot to fame with Slumdog Millionaire (2009) by Danny Boyle and incidentally many of his scenes for the Oscar-winning movie were filmed near the real-life locations affected by 2008 attacks. The actor was 17 at the time and he knew he wanted to be a part of the film when it began as he knew how his family was affected after the event.

As he got on board the film, he was so moved by the material that he took it upon himself to extensively research the subject and his character, building on the material written by director Anthony Maras. Patel is played a Sikh character for the first time and went all out to be authentic. His preparations began two months ahead of the shoot and he lived with a few Sikh families in Mumbai for a month before the film began.

There, he learnt how to get in character in little ways, like putting on his turban.

Speaking about his role, Patel said, "I was trying to be more versatile as a performer and break down stereotypes. I love going to India, and I jump at every opportunity I get to explore my roots. I don't want to repeat the same character again."

"I had read many stories about Sikh cabbies being abused after 11 September, and I saw that people didn't understand what their faith was about. There needed to be a better representation of them. A young Sikh man once took off his turban to stop someone from bleeding after a car crash. These are the things I held on to in order to imbibe the vibe of this part. It’s a selfless and incredible community. In their Gurudwara, it reads - "My turban, my pride". It became one of the speeches in the film," he explained.

Hotel Mumbai, also starring Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs, is due to be released in India on 29 November in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.