‘One Less God’ revisits the horrific attacks on the iconic Taj Hotel through two lenses – one from the terrorists’ perspective, and the other from the guests trapped by them. While based on true events, both these perspectives are fictionalised for the film. The guests come from different nationalities and backgrounds. Sean (Joseph Mahler Taylor) is an Irishman and is the closest to a ‘main’ character. Selim (Igor Kreyman) and Eda (Reilly O’Byrne-Inglis) are Turkish siblings who continuously squabble with each other. Fate brings them together with an Australian Jewish couple (Nathan Kaye and Nicole Fantl), along with a few other unfortunate souls. Meanwhile, an elderly grandfather (Sukhraj Deepak) and his grand-daughter Atiya (Mihika Rao) are trapped in another room.
It is impossible to shake off the horrific images emerging from the 2008 attacks on the Taj. Director Lliam Worthington blends real footage captured outside Mumbai’s historic landmark, along with harrowing scenes from within. Since the guests are all fictional, Worthington takes time to set up their backstories. While some of those eventually contribute to the narrative, a few don’t, and they merely add to the film’s run-time. In fact, one of the characters who doesn’t have any setup delivers some of the film’s most touching moments. Speaking of which, the arc between Atiya and Gradda is bound to pull on heartstrings, with the two of them sharing a genuinely endearing relationship.
The performances from the relatively unknown, yet adept cast add to the tension – there’s no clear-cut protagonist, so it’s impossible to predict who will survive the ordeal. The cinematography is also worth mentioning, with some well-planned and executed shots that immerse you into the brutality of the attacks. But then some sequences tend to go on longer than required, which dilutes that impact. This is particularly evident when the focus shifts to the two terrorists and their anonymous, faceless handler. As a debut film director, Lliam Worthington dons many hats behind the camera – producing, editing, and conceptually writing the story as well. For this endeavour alone, his efforts are commendable although he tends to drop one component while juggling others. A key element is an underlying message narrated at the beginning and end of the film, which runs the risk of being slightly on-the-nose. ‘One Less God’ revisits Mumbai’s 26/11 through this fictional story that falters in some areas, but works well enough as a whole.Re