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Posted at: Jan 22, 2016, 5:41 PM; last updated: Jan 22, 2016, 5:41 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW — AIRLIFT

An uplifting experience

An uplifting experience
A still from Airlift

Nonika Singh

In a post Saddam Hussein world where Iraq stands ravaged by the US invasion at best we remember that once Iraq had been an aggressor too and invaded its rich neighbour Kuwait. But who can recall that one lakh seventy thousand Indians were trapped in the rich kingdom and were evacuated thanks to the zeal of a few good men.

Airlift lifts the story of the heroes of the mission and brings it to us on celluloid with some creative liberties of course. The spotlight is on Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a business tycoon, and his picture perfect life with a beautiful wife (Nimrat Kaur) and lovely little daughter adding to the shine. A brief introduction of his opulent lifestyle replete with a song and we move straight to the point--Iraq has invaded Kuwait. 

Adversity brings out the best or the worst in human beings. In Katyal’s case it’s the former as he decides to take the onus of safety first of the workers within his organisation and slowly of all Indians caught in Kuwait on his strong shoulders. Why the man who believes profit is everything suddenly turns a new leaf and transforms into a humanitarian…there are no answers. In fact, why some of us choose to do the right thing no one really knows. 

The film that draws on the human and humane facet doesn’t get drawn into the politics of the war or too much into the goriness of it. Iraq’s invasion is explained in a few lines and the barbarism of the oppressor runs as a thread. But the real focus is on Indians and how even handful well-meaning men can change things. Leading them of course is our superstar Akshay Kumar (sublimated and well played to the T), But the man who makes your heart stop is this babu in South Block. Kumud Mishra essays his part with such credibility that just one dialogue of his while trying to convince pilots, “they are Indians but not your relatives and if you do something they can be saved” says it all. And more effectively than any jingoism laden lecture on patriotism would. Actually except for a couple of songs which too fit in, the film cuts out unnecessary flab. Though it's not an edge of the seat thriller, oscillating between hope and despair, it creates enough frisson to take you from start to finish. 

Finally it leaves you with that rare moment when you can feel good about being an Indian. Indeed, a fine thought to cherish few days before our Republic Day. However, it’s not only the thought that counts. Airlift is an uplifting experience for many more reasons and not just for Akshay fans. With significant cameos by a host of actors like Purab Kohli it's a satisfying treat at various levels. Go for it… 

Apart from capturing real history, the film adds to cinematic history which rarely digs into such subjects. And while it may not be insulting as Akshay has claimed to compare the film to the Holywood flick Argo, it sure is pointless and futile. Airlift is an Indian film that brings Indianness to the fore without shouting from the rooftop.


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