Star Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur
Director: Raja Krishna Menon
What’s Good: The untold story of India’s biggest evacuation mission is certainly worth a watch. Akshay Kumar delivers a subtle yet compelling performance.
What’s Bad: Even though the story is real, in spite of adding fictional characters such as the Major, it lacks a good antagonist.
Loo Break: Interval is enough!
Watch or Not?: Airlift is a perfect Republic day weekend watch. It’s not high on patriotism but has the right amount of it. Also, like always Akshay Kumar never lets you down with films coming from this genre.
Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is a shrewd businessman from Kuwait who prefers to be known as a Kuwait resident in spite of his Indian origin. His lavish lifestyle takes a hit when Saddam Hussein led Iraqi army invades Kuwait. Finding himself and his family badly stuck in a war-torn area where his only saviour is his Indian identity, Ranjit soon starts to use his negotiation skills to find a way to escape Kuwait. Situations change a person and Ranjit soon has a change of heart as he starts to take up the responsibility of all the Indians stranded.
Will his dedicated efforts and his business contacts help him rescue 1,70,000 Indians is what is left to see.
Airlift Review: Script Analysis
One of the most beneficial things for writers of Airlift is the fact that in spite of being a real-life incident, not many have heard about the world’s largest evacuation led by India. This works in favor because there is a sense of astonishment amongst the audiences that the writers can play with by building a gripping tale around it. Unfortunately, with Airlift the pace of the story remains the same all through. They fail to give you nail-biting elements which was quite easily possible given the plot.
The script is tight and the best it does is play with the nuances of its characters. We see Ranjit’s downfall from a proud Kuwaiti to a broken man who is trying hard to save his family and also become the hope for other Indians. Other beautifully written characters are that of Prakash Belawadi who just portrays the human nature of whining and how there always is one such person around in life and death situations. Also, Sanjay Kohli, played by Kumud Mishra is a character that is small script-wise but a powerful one.
According to me, the places where the script gets weak is where there are no scenes showing us the aggressive side of Ranjit even in the times of disparity. We don’t see him anxious as often.
Unfortunately, the film will be compared to Argo but it does not come close to the latter’s perfect filmmaking.
Airlift Review: Star Performance
Akshay Kumar gives yet another strong performance after Baby. He is impressive as Ranjit going from a proud Kuwaiti to a thankful Indian.
Nimrat Kaur has a smaller role and lesser chance to shine. Yet, she manages to do a fine job and especially the scene where she snubs an over smart man who tries to patronize her husband.
Kumud Mishra plays Sanjay Kohli, a bureaucrat with the external affairs. His contained and subtle act is noteworthy.
Prakash Belawadi as George, a stranded Indian who whines about everything possible all through but hugs Ranjit tightly at the end of the rescue mission is brilliant.
Purab Kohli as Ibrahim, a young Muslim lad from Kuwait who has lost his newly wed wife does a great job and makes up for good supporting cast.
Imaanulhaq plays the Major from Iraq whose accent seems slightly out of place. If only his character was built stronger, his performance too could have been on par with the rest.
Airlift Review: Music, Direction
Set in the 1990s Kuwait, the cinematography of Priya Seth is quite impressive. She captures the war-stricken town with a great eye.
Director, Raja Krishna Menon starts off strongly and just after the first song which could have been avoided, we are pulled into the grave nature of the invasion as 16 year old Iraqis are gunning down people. The editing is sharp and hence the film is wrapped in 2 hours 10 minutes which is perfect for a subject like that. Some interesting connects with India and the 90s can be seen as in one of the meetings that Ranjit has with an Iraqi friend, we see the television playing the news of Sachin Tendulkar joining the Indian team. What Menon fails at doing is playing with our emotions. There are no tear-jerking moments or scenes that would get us nail-biting.
The songs are placed decently and create no nuisance in the story. I loved the background score that plays when the invasion has just begun.
Airlift Review: The Last Word
Airlift is definitely a one-time watch since it is a story of an unsung hero and also India’s proud moment. Akshay Kumar certainly gives an impressive performance and I am going with a 3/5 for the film.
Airlift releases on 22nd January, 2016.
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