Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Three and half stars)
Star Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravjiani
Director: Ram Madhwani
What’s Good: Ram Madhvani relies less on drama while handling this story and that is good. Shabana Azmi and Yogendra Tikku’s performance as the parents is top notch.
What’s Bad: There are minor hiccups in the film such as Shabana Azmi’s K3G moment when she knows something is wrong with her daughter. Also a little insight and background story to the reason of hijack could have helped.
Loo Break: Interval is good!
Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) is introduced to us as a huge Rajesh Khanna fan. She is an independent girl who juggles two careers of being an air hostess and a model with immense dedication. With a supportive family, who are proud of her, Neerja’s life is near perfect until her destiny takes a detour.
On her first flight as the head purser, Neerja is faced with an untoward event. Flight Pan AM 73 which is a New York bound flight via Karachi is hijacked at Karachi international airport. With 300 passengers on board and terrorists with an agenda, Neerja’s life is in danger.
How her quick thinking and dedication to her job saved the lives of those on board is what the story focuses on.
Neerja Review: Script Analysis
The film, it seems, has been banned in Pakistan but let me tell you, this is one film that goes extremely easy on them, forget portraying them in bad light. Where Neerja truly excels is how it connects Neerja Bhanot’s personal life struggle with the gravest incident that took her life. The slain flight attendant’s failed arrange marriage with an abusive husband is introduced to us at her weakest times on plane seems well connected.
What seems quite apt is the fact that the script does not show Neerja to be a super-girl.
Amongst the flaws, one really feels there is too much hurry towards the end. The whole evacuation process looks too good to be true with terrorists shooting randomly when the passengers are alighting through the emergency exit. Another unnecessary addition would be a song which is sort of a link breaker for an engaging tale.
What the writers do not delve much into is the Palestinian angle of it and if they had, it could have been slightly more intelligent. But their portrayal of even the terrorists being ill-prepared and having conflicts amongst themselves looks quite realistic.
One thing that the film stresses on beyond its on the face plot is empowering women. Especially in today’s time, we need to celebrate personalities like Neerja who have been brave females. Also the film will help change the mindset of how the jobs of models or air hostesses are treated poorly even today.
The tear-jerking climax is superb. It will make sure everyone will leave the theaters with moist eyes.
Neerja Review: Star Performance
Sonam Kapoor does a much better job than what I expected her to do. She is specifically praiseworthy in a scene where she reads her abusive husband’s letters to her family. In her pre-hijack scenes, she is just like what she has been in any other film.
Shabana Azmi does a brilliant job as the emotional, loving and superstitious mom. She is proud of her daughter at the same time wants her to be safe. Her performance in the final scene is extremely moving.
Yogendra Tiku should officially be Bollywood’s best dad. After Queen, once again he is seen as an endearing father.
Shekhar Ravjiani does a small cameo as Neerja’s love interest. I hope this is his only attempt at acting because he seems quite uncomfortable on screen.
Amongst the terrorists, Khalil’s character truly stands out. His ‘nudge the bull and it will kill’ moment is brilliant.
Neerja Review: Music, Direction
Ram Madhvani’s Neerja is a heart-felt biopic. Hence, he keeps it simple moving from Neerja’s cosy family moments to her life-risking event. Luckily, he does not indulge in too much melodrama and that’s what makes the film watchable.
Definitely, he could have strayed away from a song in such an engaging tale but then its Bollywood. The whole ‘Mera Jee Ghabra Raha Hai’ moment too comes across as overly cinematic for a story that otherwise sticks to realism.
At the very start of the film, there is a scene where Neerja is enjoying a party at her building and how the director focuses on the balloons being burst and its similarity to the sound of gun fire shots that will occur ahead in the story is good symbolism.
While the first half builds a great pace, towards the start of the second half, there is a little slump. The director seemed to have hurried too much in the main rescue event execution and focused more on giving it an emotional ending.
Neerja Review: The Last Word
Neerja is a heart-felt biopic that rises above ordinary with a great direction and stellar performances. I suggest you fasten your seat belts for this weekend with Neerja. A 3.5/5 it is!
Neerja releases on 19th February, 2016.
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