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“AIRLIFT” is compelling and gripping!
Narrating one of the most glorious stories in Indian history, the film takes you on a ride which is consistently riveting and commendably balanced. Despite not showcasing any exceptional strategic genius, AIRLIFT is enriching in more ways than one. Watch it for Akshay Kumar’s sterling performance and the sheer historical knowledge that the film provides you with great skill.
AIRLIFT, a story based on a true event, is set in 1990 in Kuwait, the time of the Gulf War when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It narrates the tale of Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman, who considers himself more a Kuwaiti than an Indian. But after finding himself and the lives of his family in danger, eventually becomes the man who helps evacuate 1,70,000 Indians from Kuwait and brings them back safely to India. Over 59 days, 488 Air India commercial airliners were flown into a war zone to evacuate 170,000 Indians and bring them back home safely.
AIRLIFT is the story of the largest human evacuation in history, which has also found its way in to the Guinness Book Of World Records. Director Raja Menon picks up a subject which is suitable for our times, and going by his own words, in a cynical world, where one often wonders what the country has done for them, this film is a stark reminder of what the country did, not for one or ten, but for 170,000 of its own. Relevant and powerful, the film does exactly what it set out for – narrate an event which has almost been lost in the sands of history, but an event we all need to remember. Thus, instead of flaunting incredible strokes of intelligence by involving fictional strategy, the film purely goes about stating facts and generating hope.
This film is different, as its underlying tone is extremely poised and not over-the-top, quite unlike most other Akshay Kumar movies. Instead of melodrama, Menon uses genuine facts and strong data points to help the film’s cause. There are flaws apparent in the screenplay, but such that can be easily overlooked. But I genuinely feel, it could’ve been far more satiating if Menon went a step ahead and not stop at just stating facts, but bringing something of his own to the table as well. Just like ARGO did. Nevertheless, it’s a great idea in itself to present this story and having done that convincingly, the makers deserve an applause. Even putting in light periodic elements like entry of Tendulkar in the Indian team and Iraqi fan following of Bachchan during the time, only enhances the charm of the film.
Of the performers, it’s Akshay Kumar all the way. His conviction towards the subject seems tremendously solid and that reflects in his act. He’s restrained yet powerful and belligerent yet vulnerable and he portrays each of these attitudes with his usual panache. Possibly his best performance till date. Nimrat Kaur overplays at times, but is mostly surefooted. Kumud Mishra is lovable, and Prakash Belawadi brings the much needed masala to the sequences. Also worth mentioning is the performance of Innamulhaq, who shines as the corrupt Iraqi major. All others do well.
In all, AIRLIFT is a well-made period drama that brings to screen the untold story of the world's largest human evacuation ever. It’s absorbing and pertinent. Go for it!
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