Friday the 22nd will see the release of “Airlift”. Directed by Raja Krishna Menon and starring Akshay Kumar, this truly is a remarkable film. These days in Bollywood, rarely do you get to see some wonderfully crafted story telling but Airlift is sure to guarantee you in that department. Based on the plight of Indians stuck in Kuwait after the invasion by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and their heroic escape under the stewardship of Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar).Looks like Bollywood has it’s “Argo”. A reluctant hero rescuing lives from an unbearable hostile land and airlifting them to the homeland.
Movies like Airlift are an anomaly in Bollywood as this movie was more about story telling than needlessly throwing fluorescent cars in the air. Airlift didn’t have a massive budget yet it delivered when it came to the direction and plot. The movie starts off with the luxurious and lavish lifestyle of the Katyal family in Kuwait being shown and then soon afterwards the turmoil starts. Iraq invades Kuwait. The entire Kuwait government has left the country. The Iraqi forces are on a rampage and the Indian diaspora in Kuwait is now stuck in limbo. It’s now up to Akki Kumar to save the day.
The cinematography is excellent and the depiction of a war torn Kuwait looks eerie and at the same time quite genuine and authentic. It just goes to show that clever film making works brilliantly even if a film doesn’t have a humongous amounts of resources. Akshay Kumar has given a solid performance. Unlike his previous characters, Akshay this time has a more realistic role which was tailor-made made for him. This time he was more Ben Affleck from Argo than a Khiladi from his previous works.
Nimrat Kaur is a fine actress and was rightly chosen for the portrayal of Amrita Kaur. In-fact every character was given the right actor. The role of the Kuwaiti woman, the annoying South Indian man and Ibrahim were all perfectly chosen. But Perhaps in the grand scheme of affairs, the role of an Iraqi Major shouldn’t have gone to somebody who looked a lot more Indian and spoke in Hindi. Maybe the filmmakers could have opted for more realism in that regard.
The pacing of the film is excellent and not once will you feel monotonous or bored. The film has the right dose of realism and thrill to it and it can be judged from the fact that Ranjit Katyal has to use his brain to defeat the bad guys and not resort to extreme violence.(Spolier Alert!) He did take on 4 Iraqi soldiers but surprisingly he couldn’t take them all out and needed some help.
The only complaint from the film can be that the whole Iraqi invasion could have been made to look even more grand and extensive but every filmmaker has his or her own choices and limits.
Airlift is a fine piece of Cinema and Bollywood could sure use more of these films. The intensity, the feel, the acting, the sets and the concept should be really appreciated. It’s not everyday a film like Airlift is made in Bollywood. Whoever Ranjit Katyal is. A real life hero or a fictitious character conjured up by Bollywood, Airlift is a really wonderful film to watch.