Monday, January 25, 2016


Watched 'cinema' after a long time (and not merely an exorbitant indulgence in a PR exercise).

To confess, I haven't watched any of Akshay Kumar movies in the theater apart from 'Special 26'. This, plus his 'Baby,' made me want to watch more of his movies. And, 'Airlift' didn't disappoint at all.
Airlift, without wasting much time in the preliminaries, quickly gets into the thick of the action. 
Airlift is about a successful business man (Akshay Kumar) in Kuwait, who considers himself a Kuwaiti and not an Indian, though he originates from India. He leads a perfect life, comfortable and cushy with a small family. 
One night he awakens to sounds of Iraqi attacks on the city. He convinces himself and his wife (Nimrat Kaur) that this is just a freak attack and everything would be back to normal in a week's time. 
The next day when he sets out in his car, he is devastated to find the town ravaged. His driver is killed and he is captured and taken to meet an Iraqi Major, who was in charge of Akshay's security on his previous visit to Iraq. He guarantees a safe passage to Akshay and his family in exchange of certain favors. He is an example of how mice become tigers when circumstances are in their favor. Subsequently, he tries to milk the situation many a time but is ultimately defeated by Akshay's superior negotiation skills. 
The first thing Akshay does after meeting the major, is ensure the safety of the driver's family. This random act of his kindness triggers hope in the other Indians. The initial 500 throng quickly turns to 1.5 lakh. Akshay  takes upon himself to take care of all these people who look up to him with hope.
He relentlessly seeks support of the Iraqi government, his contacts in Iraq and the Indian government respectively to help the Indians get evacuated. 
The plot is about the travails he faces when some things work and some don't. We also get to view the politics behind the Indian External Affairs Ministry's very apathetic attitude to the gravity of the situation. 
It is only a conscientious 'babu' and his dogged pursuit that helps set up the Air India flights to get them all back safely to the Indian shores. Watching the Air India logo as the planes take off, is such a goose-bumps experience!
Though the movie, in one line, is all about getting the Indians safely back, its twists keep you engaged throughout. Not for a moment does the movie allow your thoughts to wander. 
Akshay brings a great honesty to the role. This movie seems reflective of his hard work and discipline in his real of those rare times when we get to watch Akshay underplay his role to portray a character so well.
Nimarat Kaur supports him by standing by him through all his decisions though she was initially opposed to his staying back to help people not related to him. 

The movie deserves awards for:

1. Great acting by many of the characters
2. Casting: every character fits the role so well! 
3. Beautiful and authentic-looking sets
4. Very, very crisp editing. 
5. Excellent direction by Raja Menon in his first big venture
6. Some great lines (unlike the cheesy ones in the movies by the big stars). Sample this, "Lekin jab chot lagthi hain, tho Maa ko hi yaad karthe hain na" : Akshay Kumar on being questioned about why he has started calling himself an Indian now.
To really nit-pick, perhaps the songs could be done away with, though thankfully, they don't distract you from the plot.
The movie must be watched till the end credits roll, as we get to see photographs of this real-life incident that took place in the year 1990. 
After the recent happenings in India, the dialog at  end of the movie by Akshay Kumar will draw seeti-maars as he speaks about staying back in India despite all its problems.
For me, a near 5 on 5 experience.