Airlift Movie Review



Hindi cinema history tells us that mainstream storytellers in Bollywood face many a pitfall when they work with real-life stories.

They frequently succumb to the temptation to inject exaggerated drama into the narrative. In the bargain, they end up tumbling with a thud between two stools.

Neither is it easy for their ilk to handle a tale of heroism aimed at highlighting what “we Indians” can achieve when we all deign to pull in the same direction.

Mumbai filmmakers have all too often turned such accounts into flabby, flag-waving exercises meant only for those who buy into such counterfeit cinematic constructs.

Raja Krishna Menon, writer and director of Airlift, suffers no such mishaps.

His recreation of the harrowing events leading up to one of the most glorious chapters in Indian civil aviation history is marked by moderation and a keen sense of balance.

Menon steers clear of the traps in his way while delivering a sharply written, gripping thriller that rarely, if ever, flags.

This saga of a rescue mission that made it to the Guinness Book of World Records warms the cockles of one’s heart but isn’t jingoistic in the least.

That is a rare quality indeed in a pre-Republic Day release purportedly designed to douse us all with patriotism.

To begin with, Airlift focuses on the shocking repercussions of military adventurism on ordinary people.

At the receiving end here are the residents of Kuwait, a nation that was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard in August 1990.

The attack renders 1,70,000 Indians penniless and homeless as a rampaging army goes about killing defenceless Kuwaitis with impunity.

In the face of grave danger to himself and his immediate family of three, a wealthy and politically connected Indian businessman Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) does not take the easy way out despite the initial urge to flee to London.

He is no spotless India lover, which is made amply clear right upfront by the profit-driven entrepreneur’s disparaging remarks about the country of his birth.

Yet, against the counsel of his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur), Katyal decides to stay put in order to help the other Indians that are in duress and are far more vulnerable than him.


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