‘Kaun kahta hai aasmaan mein chhed ho nahin sakta
Ek paththar to tabiyat se uchhalo yaaron’
To all those who look down upon Bollywood movies and snigger that they can never match up to the best of the West, the wait is over. AIRLIFT is here to make your cinematic spirits fly. Literally. Hats off to Bhushan Kumar of T Series, Nikhil Advani, Vikram Malhotra and Akshay Kumar for backing a film that deserves to be seen by every Indian and yes the world is waiting to salute the biggest and most historic air evacuation in the world history. With baited breath. Some stories should be told. AIRLIFT sheds light on the evacuation of Indians in Kuwait after the invasion by Iraq and it is narrated BRILLIANTLY!
Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is a shrewd businessman who liked enjoying the high society life of Kuwait. His wife Amrita Katyal (Nimrat Kaur) is happy in her own world with her little daughter. Their world is turned upside down as Iraq invades Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Circumstances get the best or worst out of people. Ranjit who was a selfish businessman turns a new leaf as he watches his driver murdered in front of his own eyes. He along with a group of rich friends organises a camp for 1, 70, 000 Indians. The subsequent days are a glorious account of his powerful negotiating skills with enemies as well as friends.
Writer-Director Raja Krishna Menon’s relatives were part of the Kuwait crisis. It must have been a story very close to his heart for he has poured tears, cries and trauma that only those who’ve been through hell can narrate. His direction leaves a hammer strong impact. Raja Menon is a director to watch out for. Suresh Nair, Rahul Nangia, Ritesh Shah along with Menon share the writing credits. Screenplay is gripping. There’s not a single false note. Dialogues are wonderfully written. At several junctures you shall get funny gems like ‘Reti mein kheti karoon kya’ and many more.
Akshay Kumar has delivered his career’s best performance in AIRLIFT. He is outstanding! He is clearly the soul of the film. It is clear, this is not merely a film. He’s willing to give it his all. The transformation from a man who lived for himself to a man possessed with the well being of his fellow countrymen in a foreign land is nothing short of genius. The scene where he communicates helpless guilt through vacuous eyes to the wife of an employee who has been murdered in the mayhem is simply brilliant. There are many scenes where Akshay towers as an actor. It is a National award winning worthy act. Nimrat Kaur essays the role of a disgruntled wife who comes closer to her husband more-than-ever-before in the moment of crisis. She’s first rate throughout. Nimrat is fabulous in the confrontation sequence when she shuts up the cantankerous Mr George (Prakash Belawadi) at a crucial juncture in the film. Prakash Belawadi as the irritating refugee is very convincing and noteworthy. Purab Kohli as Ibrahim Durrani, the right hand man of Akshay is first rate. Inamulhaq as the Amitabh Bachchan fan Iraqi Major Khalaf Bin Zayd is a delight. The sinister villainy dipped in vilayati whiskey is a delight. Kumud Mishra as the Babu in External Affairs ministry brings in a laid back charm.
The background score of the film is a character in itself and pulls the strings of your emotions effectively. Amongst the songs, ‘Tu Bhoola Jise‘ (excellently composed by Amaal Malik and outstandingly sung by KK) is an exceptional song that instills a unique wave of patriotism within you. Kumaar’s lyrics are written with the blood of true feelings. As the crescendo goes ‘Vande Mataram‘ a sense of satiating catharsis sets in. ‘Soch Na Sake‘ (composed by Amaal Malik and sung by Arijit Singh) is another song that comes at a crucial time and thankfully only half of it is used that ensures that the effect of the moment isn’t diluted.
Priya Seth’s cinematography gives a unique texture to the film. She captures the locations of Ras al Khaima (UAE) and Rajasthan in a breathtaking manner. The framing of the desert sequences is outstanding. Hemanti Sarkar’s editing is crisp and taut.
On the whole, AIRLIFT is a classic film based on a real life incident that is told extremely well on screen. It is surely one of the best films to come out this year and will pick up with a strong word of mouth. Just do not miss this one!