If exaggerated dialogues, never-ending songs, overloaded background, sentimental prejudice and unrealistic action have been your definition of Bollywood stuff, then you need to watch Raja Krishna Menon’s directed Airlift spanning for 125 minutes, and revealing the best it could within the stretching time. It utilizes beautifully the screen and the script, taking into account the background music scores, the speechless communication, character transformation, justifying the incidents and then proceeding towards a happy ending. Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is the protagonist who is a successful business man involved in the construction deals and the movie begins with the celebration of his victory. An Arabic melody marks his persona; the grandeur adds to his description and denotes his craving for luxury, wealth and success. But after the party, Ranjit Katyal’s deep slumber, peace and comfort get disturbed, Iraq’s invasion over Kuwait marks a slowly invading change in his psyche as well. Katyal who hates Indian songs, who identifies himself more as a Kuwaiti and less as an Indian, who speaks Arabic fluently, listens to Arabian melody, has a professional bonding with his wife, Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and daughter (Abida Hussain) suddenly wakes up to see his shattering self. The unrest caused in the city by the young Iraqi forces resulted in the murder of Katyal’s driver, Nair, several Kuwaitis are deprived of their lives, homes and basic necessities, and similar plundering is carried throughout the city. The movie takes into account 1990 Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and reflects the plight of Kuwait based Indians. Katyal’s character strikes similarilty with Mathuny Matthews, who is credited with arranging a rescue operation for over a lakh Indians during the Kuwait turmoil.
The debatable question of fact and fantasy kept aside, the story has everything to amuse its audience. The hoping yearning eyes of the working Indians resonate alike, the adoring gaze that a wife has over her husband elevates the character and answers all his efforts. The officials like Kohli and the Air India troops that work for Airlifting strengthen the spirit of Patriotism and respect. If there are people in the ministry ignoring telephone calls and consuming paranthas over files, there is a man, who has sleepless nights arranging for orders to rescue his fellow countrymen stuck in a land miles away! And then is our hero, who is all set to a mission, circumstances carve out a messiah out of him, he has a series of failures, losses and setbacks, and his victory depends on the team that works and supports him. His sphere and his role increase gradually, he has to protect his wife and daughter, and then the horizons expand when the dead driver’s family fall under his responsibility, having arranged for five of these faces, he could have easily escaped but gestures, faces and prayers could not let him stir! He had his co-workers, friends and then the co-worker’s with their family and friends and what more could have added, every known Indian in that foreign land was stuck in the same situation. Among these stranded Indians there was difference everywhere to spot on, they had different faces, different ages, different backgrounds, different opinions, class, status and economy, but what brought them together was this moment of crisis, this identity of origin, this state of existence! They were Indians Suffering in a foreign land and had no one to look for but pine and yearn to catch a glimpse of the sky that was theirs.
For everyone the moment had something to transform, while Katyal’s wife Amrita gets to know a heroic side of her husband, admires him for his hard work, patience and effort, His friend’s get to discover their humanitarian ethos, organize the basic necessities’ for the refugees in a camp and shift from the luxuries to a lower requisite that life demands. Purab Kohli, who plays Ibrahim Durrani finds his love as he helps a Kuwaiti woman, Mr. Poonawala, George Kutty and other resting Indians express through smiles and hugs the appreciation that comes to surface after a series of previous abuse. What more could transformation mean? Its Ranjit Katyal’s drastic shift, his realization of self, his responsibility towards family, friends, society and nation. He represents that intellectual section of society who takes the responsibility to act, rather than question the government and authority. For all those individuals, learned and wealthy, who reside within painted four walls Ranjit Katyal is an example of bravery, initiative and courage, he collected the fallen, scattered pearls and weaving them in a string together preached the old gospel, “United we stand, divided we fall”.
In the India of today, we are facing similar crisis, the crisis of intellect, the crisis of opinion, expression, vision and unity. We are divided at all level, let’s take a moment to ponder and reorganize our energies to a better becoming, a better living and better understanding of ourselves, our nation and our lives.
I would give it 9/10.