It feels strange to see the maverick ad-maker Ram Madhvani's trailer of Neerja, a bio-pic on the brave heart airhostess Neerja Bhanot who gave up her life fighting hijackers on board the ill-fated Panam flight on 5 August, 1986 which was hijacked by terrorists.
Madhvani last made Let's Talk, featuring Boman Irani's movie debut, in 2002 which is his only feature film so far. Thereafter it's been one long struggle for the maverick of the ad world to get his act together. Some years ago he was supposed to direct a desi interpretation of Lord Of The Rings with Mr. Bachchan in the lead. It didn't work out. More recently Madhavan was supposed to direct Kajol in the Hindi large-screen adaptation of the Danish series Pinoza. That too got shelved.
I guess Madhvani was destined to return with Neerja. The trailer is irresistibly emotional, as the focus seems to be on the valiant woman's domestic life particularly her rapport with her mother. The mother-daughter pair is played by Shabana Azmi and Sonam Kapoor who seem to share an absolutely genuine chemistry.
It helps that Shabana knows Sonam from the time Sonam was a baby. Some of the bonding that they seem to share is born out of their real-life relationship.
Madhavani allows a lot of space in the trailer for the mother-daughter's warmth to spread before he slams us with the midair crisis where the 23-year old girl is suddenly asked to cope with the situation of a terror takeover.
The trailer is fabulously cut. It's the Madhvani ad-world touch. And Sonam certainly seems more at home in midair playing an airhostess than she did as the sanskari seductress in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Whether she does justice to the memory of that incredibly brave girl who saved 359 passengers is a question that will be answered only when the film is released. If she doesn't there is always the ever-dependable Azmi to fall back on.
In the meanwhile the trailer reminds us bio-pics are the order of the (Fri)day. We have several bio-pics on sports stars coming up. That someone thought of honouring of Neera Bhanot is a heartening.