Magnificent 'Airlift' reinforces your faith in humanity

Magnificent 'Airlift' reinforces your faith in humanity

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 22 January 2016

Movie Title

Magnificent 'Airlift' reinforces your faith in humanity


Raja Menon

Star Cast

Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Feryna Wazheir

This is one of those real-life events that still seems unbelievable. In the year 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, over 1,70,000 Indians were evacuated by civilian airlines. This evacuation was spearheaded by a businessman and his friends. The evacuation meant that over 59 days, the Indian government systematically flew over 488 Air India commercial flights into the war zone to evacuate all 1,70,000 Indians. It's important to give the details of this event for its sheer magnitude! Incidentally, it finds mention in the Guinness Book of World Records and is considered the biggest ever evacuation in history.

And all this for the efforts of one man Mathunny Mathews, who till a few days before the Iraq attack, was considered a shrewd businessman concentrating more on profits rather than relationships.

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Akshay essays the role of Mathews, who in the film is named Ranjit Katyal. Ranjit leads the charmed life in Kuwait and considers himself a Kuwaiti, rather than an Indian. He spends his days cracking business deals with Kuwaiti royals, enjoying evening parties, and leading a happy life with his wife and kid.

The Iraqi attack comes as a rude shock. The Iraqi soldiers are a dangerous lot because most of them are very young boys who've been handed over guns with a huge amount of power. They laugh and joke about raping women, they enjoy the terrorizing effect they have on regular folks, and are free to rob and pillage as they please.

In one very interesting scene, when Ranjit meets the Iraqi general, he realizes that the same man was in charge of his security a while back when he had visited Iraq. This man is now powerful enough to decide what happens to Ranjit's life.

The general offers that Ranjit and his family may leave Iraq any time they like. But Ranjit takes a life-and-death decision. He decides to look after the accommodation and safety of the 1,70,000 Indians and makes a choice to leave only with them.

How this one-man army jolts the sleeping Indian government and manages to motivate an External Affairs employee to help him, forms the crux of the story.

The film is as much about the evacuation as it is about everyday heroes. Ranjit begins by offering the suddenly homeless Indians his office for a night, and goes on to save their lives. His wife hasn't been celebrated as much in the film, but she's equally brave to give up the opportunity to escape, and stay back with Ranjit. Equally resilient are those Indians who stayed under one roof for so many days and loved and supported each other.

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Director Raja Krishna Menon tells this remarkable tale astutely, keeping us on the edge of our seats. There are several moments that send a chill down your spine, particularly the ones where the Iraqi soldiers unexpectedly attack the Indian base. Or when a group of young Iraqi soldiers symbolically gun down a teddy bear.

He also masterfully brings out the shockingly callous behavior of the officials and ministers in charge. In one scene, a minister, when told about the evacuation and airlifting the stranded Indians wants to know who will foot the bill for this evacuation.

Menon does overdose on the patriotism towards the end, but it's in keeping with the film's mood. Another flaw is its female characters that are almost always portrayed as hapless victims. The sharply edited film (Hemanti Sarkar) film looks slick (cinematography by Priya Seth) and has a wonderful background score (Arijit Dutta).

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Akshay Kumar is fantastic as the businessman who turns into a hero in the moments of crisis. The character goes through an entire gamut of emotions, and Akshay comes out trumps. Kumud Mishra is masterful as the government official who tries his best to make a case for the trapped Indians. Nimrat Kaur impresses as the well-looked after wife who also surprises by displaying real grit by choosing to stay back with the other Indians.

It's an incredible story - one that makes you feel patriotic, but more importantly, reinforces your faith in humanity. And it makes you wonder - maybe there is a hero in all of us. Maybe!

Rating: 4 stars

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