Bollywood has stars who do not want to get stuck in the same place. I consider it as on of the reasons for Bollywood producing sensible films at times. Akshay Kumar is a such star who suits the films that deal with national cause/integration. A year ago, he came up with “Baby” which dealt with a national cause and exactly a year after, he came up with “Airlift” which dealt with national integration. It is directed by “Raja Krishna Menon” who directed “Baarah Aana (2009)” starring Naseeruddin Shah. This film has a lot of producers like Bhushan Kumar, Nikhil Advani, Arjuna Bhatia and so on under their respective production houses. Nimrat Kaur played Akshay’s wife.
In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait with the command of the then president Saddam Hussain. Nearly 1,70,000 Indians got stuck in Kuwait. Indian Government evacuated all the Indians from Kuwait hence making it the biggest human evacuation in the world. “Airlift” is based on this incident and portrays how Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait settled Indian millionaire played an important role in this evacuation, by risking his own family.
These kinds of docudramas come up with an objective narration which has a slower pace. Yet director Menon took a lot cinematic liberty to dramatize some scenes because Ranjit is a fictional character designed with an inspiration of real people Matthews, Vedi and Sunny who were the main heads in the evacuation.
If talked about the good things, there are many. The narration which started with a beautiful aerial shot showing a peaceful Kuwait was straight and simple throughout the film. Menon didn’t take much time but established Ranjit’s character who hates India simply with the scenes like where he asks his Indian driver to change the Indian song being played in his car and a small sub plot. He entered the main plot quickly with an aerial shot of damaged Kuwait and the narration was felt a Hollywood kind. As it was a real incident, Menon had a large space to portray the negligence of Government officials using Kohli character played by Kumud Mishra, people’s criticism using George played by Prakash Belawadi and the political exploitation of the situations.
Menon also ensured his audience that the narration was set up in 1990 by showing cassettes and Ranjit winding the cassette’s tape with a pen which used to happen in 90s. Though it was an objective narration, Menon was successful in conveying the emotion and struggle of Ranjit and elevated the heroism for Akshay in the scene where he bluffs the Iraq General. There are lot more good things to be discussed in this film and I’m stopping here in order to be friendly with the director. Yet I’d like to talk about two shots in this film which were very touching. The flag hoisting and the flight taking off shots were the two which gave me goosebumps and ensured that I have patriotism towards my nation. It was boosted up by “Tu Bhoola Jise” soulfully sung by K.K with thought provoking lyrics by Kumaar.
If talked about other things, as said before, director took a lot of cinematic liberty yet I got disappointed at some places. For example, Ranjit promises his daughter that there are lots of beautiful things in India. Had he told her daughter showing the Indian flag that this is Indian flag or something, that would’ve hit the hearts more stronger. This is just my opinion hence a negligible thing to discuss.
Akshay Kumar is the heart of this film and he came up with a subtle performance yet he had everything on his shoulders. I liked his expression when George hugs him at the end. Nimrat Kaur suited the rich wife’s character well and justified her role. Prakash Belawadi attracted as an Indian who argues always. Kumud Mishra, Purab Kohli contributed well.
On the whole, Airlift is a film that should be definitely watched for its plot, narration and Akshay’s performance.
More Eminences :
Besides narration and Akshay’s performance, I found the following aspects are eminent in this film,
- Priya Seth’s Cinematography. The aerial shots of Kuwait’s locations and the picture quality are at their best.
- Runtime. These kinds of films do not require a larger runtime and Menon was successful in narrating what he wanted in a runtime of 124 minutes.
- Production Values. Said to be filmed with a minimal budget of 30 crores, this film appeared rich everywhere.
- I felt the narration could’ve been dramatized more.
- Narration was a bit slower in the second half. But it’s negligible when comes to objective narration.
– Yashwanth Aluru