As Dev Patel chased down the character of Arjun, a turbaned Sikh working under Chef Hemant Oberoi in Anthony Maras' upcoming film Hotel Mumbai, he knew it was uphill task preparing for the part. More so because that's so far removed from his real self. Patel was born and raised in England by Gujarati Indian Hindu parents but he had great compassion for the Sikh community who bore the brunt of the 9/11 attacks.
The actor understood the hate came from the lack of representation of Sikh characters in international films that triggered him to reason with his director why Arjun should be a Sikh in the film. Talking about how he prepped for playing a Sikh, Dev said he not only stayed with them for a few days but even learned to wrap the turban himself. He also said that one of the key reasons for taking up this project was that it was a Sikh character and the people should know about their generosity, bravery and helpful nature. He also added that there is a genuine need for better representation of the Sikh community.
Dev Patel on his prep
Talking about his prep, he said, "I spent about a month with my coach Raghuveer Joshi working on the accent and the pitch. Since the character is fictional, there was no reference point. Looks-wise we built him up from ground zero. I had to completely change my appearance, work on my Hindi and Punjabi at the same time and ensure that the words sound correct in terms of tonality. I had done neither of these before but I am glad the film made me push myself to try out an uncharted territory personally. The story is close to me as I was shooting here for one month and the next in my house in London my parents looking at the TV screens and watching Mumbai burning, it was horrible!"
Dev Patel had told IANS, "The film for me is about the unlikely heroes of this hotel. The beauty of this story is that those staff of the hotel to whom you may not even give a second look brings out their humanity. And it was really these people who put their lives on the line to save their guests. Because for them this hotel was their home, it was sacred to them."