Neerja (2016)

Neerja Poster

If an artist wants to prove his/her mettle then all it needs is an emotional character and plot. In Bollywood, docudramas have been becoming platforms for many artists. Sonam Kapoor got one such in the form of “Neerja” based on model cum air hostess “Neerja Bhanot”. Directed by “Ram Madhvani”, this film was produced by For Star Pictures. It also starred Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku, Shekhar Ravjiani in the pivotal roles.

Plot :

It’s the story of the air hostess and the youngest Ashoka Chakra Award recipient Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) who saved 359 passengers from a Libyan terrorists’ hijack.

Narration :

Director Ram Madhvani stated that this story was inspired from several true events at the inception. It meant he got some dramatic liberty to present this docudrama film. But it felt he didn’t go for any such thing in “Neerja”.

Good Things…

Ram didn’t leave any minute thing from portraying, from the terrorists’ plans to Neerja’s happy family. It might have made the film’s narration slower yet it was necessary to show what “Neerja Bhanot” missed in her life.

Sometimes, casting makes narrator’s work much easier. If a good actor is chosen for a prominent role then it gets established in the narration automatically hence letting the writer not to strive to establish it. It happened with “Rama Bhanot”, mother of Neerja, as the director chose “Shabana Azmi” for it. The audience himself establishes the role in his mind once he watches Azmi on screen. If “Neerja Bhanot” was the hero of her family in the real time, I felt “Rama Bhanot” is the hero of the film “Neerja”.

Monisha’s editing in taking the audience from Neerja’s past life to present life was perfect. I liked the editing in the scene where terrorist and Neerja’s husband knock the door hard to get her out of the bathroom.

In general, if a film is narrated well in the last 20 minutes then that surely touches audience’s hearts because he steps out of the theater carrying that emotion. The same thing happened with this film as there was an effective pre-climax sequence where Neerja was shot and Rama Bhanot’s speech after one year of her daughter’s death. Credits to the writer “Sanyuktha Chawla”, director Ram Madhvani and Shabana Azmi for making this scene touch the hearts. It was supported well by “Jeete Hain Chal” soulfully sung by “Kavita Seth” which also had real photographs of beautiful Neerja Bhanot.

Disappointing Things…

As said, director didn’t seem to take dramatic liberty but I felt he should have taken some to elevate certain scenes with slow motion shots. Though every scene was necessary, it felt the narration was slower and the limited 122 minutes of run time appeared longer.


On the whole, Neerja is definitely a watch-able film for its story and emotional climax.

Performances :

Sonam Kapoor tried to act in this film as the character had a potential. She acted well in the scene where she reads out her husband’s letter to her father. Shabana Azmi lived the character of Rama Bhanot and overshadowed all the other characters including Neerja Bhanot. The terrorist cast Jim Sarbh, Ali Baldiwala, Abrar Zahoor and Vikrant Singta were good. Music director Shekhar Ravjiani was good as Jaideep. Yogendra Tiku as Harish Bhanot, father of Neerja was good.

More Eminences :

  1. Mitesh Mirchandani’s Cinematography. Most of the scenes take place inside the flight and the flight lights were used for them.
  2. Monisha R Baldawa’s Editing. As said, editing was very well handled at some places.
  3. Vishal Khurana’s Music. I liked the song “Jeete Hain Chal” which was very inspiring, at the end.

Lowlands :

  1. Slow Narration.

– Yashwanth Aluru

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