Airlift is set to release next Friday. The film is making news for all the right
reasons and with it being the most universal flick of the month, there are great expectations amongst the
audience as well. Last year, in the same weekend, Akshay Kumar‘s Baby had released and earned respect for
being one of the most appreciated films once 2015 ended. Now from Airlift, which is made by the same team (Akshay
Kumar, T-Series and Vikram Malhotra – with his newly formed company Abundantia Entertainment) along with Nikkhil
Advani and Raja Menon, one has good expectations all over again.
Over to Vikram.
Vikram, a film from a newly formed production house has to be special as that is something which drives the
perception in the industry. How was Airlift picked as a chosen project for Abundantia?
Abundantia prides itself on being a content company with a difference. We are a hybrid between a production house
and a movie studio with the objective of bringing together the best of both worlds. At the upstream level we
look at ourselves as content incubation lab whereas downstream we have capability to produce, market and
distribute. It’s wonderful that in the very first year of the existence of Abundantia, this unique story of
Airlfit was brought to us. Nikkhil Advani shared the idea of Airlift with me and I was floored by
the script. It was an instant yes!
What was the inception point for Airlift?
Nikkhil and I evaluated a diverse array of subjects and amongst them was this almost documentary-like concept
note. I read it and was zapped. Here it was – talking about this mighty deed of the Indian government which,
along with Air India and a few brave men, evacuated 1,70,000 people back to their motherland in safety. This
created the record for world’s largest evacuation ever and even found an entry in the Guinness Book of world
Records. (Laughs) I consider myself suitably aware about current affairs and political history aur yahaan mujhe
itni badi baat nahi pata thi. I Googled and found very few articles around this. This is when I asked Nikkhil and
Raja to make me hear the script.
I instantly felt that Airlift could be a film with a big heart. It had to be told in the right manner and
made to connect with a wider population. At first, I had an informal chat with Akshay (Kumar) and bounced the
idea off him as I felt that there could be no better Ranjit Katiyal (the name of the character that Akshay Kumar
plays in Airlift) than Akshay. His reaction was very similar reaction to mine. He heard the script with
Nikkhil and Raja and was completely bowled over. Despite his busy schedule, he came on board instantly and worked
tremendously hard on the script along with the team. I have had the good opportunity to work with Akshay on some
exciting films like Baby, OMG – Oh My God! and Special 26 but the way he extended himself on the
script of Airlift and involved himself so much on the pre-production was truly something else.
For the film, you chose Raja Menon as the director. Was it a straight forward decision since he came with the
We didn’t choose Raja Menon as the director. Raja and the film chose us! Raja had written the story and brought
the script to Nikhil’s company and Nikkhil has stood by Raja all through. He made sure that the film gets made as
per Raja’s creative vision and also match the story’s ability to reach out to the audience. With Airlift,
we are getting a very talented director to the Indian movie industry.
As a producer though, was the film a huge logistical challenge, considering its shooting in many locations,
especially outdoors of the Middle East?
Hats off to Raja and team that has gone around putting this together. I would go to the sets and my breath would
be taken away by what this team was managing to achieve. Nikkhil has gone all out to support the team in making
Airlift a grand story with a great humane element to it. A story that every Indian, actually ever human
being, will be proud of
Meanwhile, Airlift is also the first movie of 2016 with a superstar (Akshay Kumar) in there. You must
be happy with the way he is pitching the film and audience is looking forward to his arrival on the big screen?
Akshay is phenomenal. We talk about actors and films aiming for 200-300 crores and here is this man who on an
average goes well beyond 300 crores every year with multiple releases on a consistent basis. He does three to
four films a year and yet pulls in a wide mass of audience every three odd months. His fan franchise never shows
any sign of any fatigue.
And the variety helps?
Exactly. I am speaking out of personal experience of working with him. While he already has the men eating out of
his hand with his action and comedy repertoire, when he played Lord Krishna in OMG – Oh My God!, he opened
up a new sort of following amongst women and children. With Special 26 and Baby, he reinvented his
image amongst youth and the urban audience. Then he went ahead and balanced it with out and out entertainers like
Gabbar Is Back and Singh Is Bliing. What he has done over the years is now paying off with where he
is right now. This balance should hopefully get a further boost with Airlift.