Airlift Movie Review



Release Date: 22 January 2016

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Inaamulhaq, Purab Kohli, Kumud Mishra, Prakash Belawadi, Feryna Wazheir

Directed by: Raja Krishna Menon

Produced by: Nikhil Advani, Aruna Bhatia, Monisha Adwani, Madhu G. Bhojwani, Krishan Kumar, Bhushan Kumar, Vikram Malhotra

Music by: Amaal Mallik, Ankit Tiwari

Written by: Raja Krishna Menon, Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah, Rahul Nangia

Cinematography: Priya Seth

Duration: 2 hours 05 minutes (running time)

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Biopic

Censor Rating: U/A

About the Movie Airlift

With its foundation so real and powerful, ‘Airlift’ undoubtedly made it to the list of the most anticipated releases of 2016 since the time its teaser was released. Director Raja Menon strikes the patriotic chords of every Indian smartly revealing the plot of the movie – convincingly featuring Akshay Kumar as Ranjit Katiyal and the unconventional actress Nimarat Kaur, without overdoing the thrill or drama – thus, leaving the viewers curious and convinced about the movie.

After his remarkable performances in patriotic plots like ‘Special 26’, ‘Holiday’ and ‘Baby’, khiladi Akshay Kumar is all confident with this thriller biopic. ‘Airlift’ is an honest attempt to narrate and share the struggle and efforts of Indians who were stuck in Kuwait after Iraq invaded it on 2nd August 1990 and how the remarkable evacuation operation was planned and performed.

Let’s find out what makes the movie ‘Airlift’ a must watch for every Indian!

The Plot:

The real story: During that time when Iraq had invaded Kuwait on the orders of Saddam Hussein, IK Gujaral, the then Minister of External Affairs, visited Iraq to workout an evacuation plan for all Indians stranded in Kuwait. Initially, the government made efforts to evacuate Indians by military aircrafts but due to the challenges in air-space clearances, civilian airline Air India worked for the deed. MP Mascarenhas was then coordinating the efforts of Air India in Kuwait. Poor communication and lack of travel documents made the evacuation of such a huge number of people quite a challenge. People were taken tactfully to Amman, Jordan, from where they were airlifted. But finally, a total of 1,70,000 Indians were evacuated and taken to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 59 days by operating 488 flights from 13 August to 11 October 1990. Also, around 10,000 Indians decided to remain in Kuwait then. With this operation, Air India has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first civil airline to evacuate most people!

The plot of the film ‘Airlift’ showcases this enormous struggle of Indians marooned in the war hit Kuwait and the heroic mission of bringing them to their homeland. Akshay Kumar is seen playing the role of Ranjit Katiyal, a rich and shrewd business tycoon who had left his country to make money and was living a lavish life in Kuwait. But later, he goes against all odds to help his countrymen survive the animosities in the war torn region and takes them back to where they always belonged – their country, India!

Performances in the film Airlift

With his third and biggest film till date, film-maker Raja Krishna Menon has set a benchmark with a stupendous work! This recreation of a true Indian story is here to rule our hearts forever.

After his goofy comedy in Singh is Bling, Akshay Kumar is ruling the silver screen in ‘Airlift’. It is absolutely tough to take your eyes off him, and he is like a soul to the movie. The Khiladi is totally in the shoes of Ranjit Katiyal’s character, and makes you feel every bit of his emotions. Truly an award winning performance and undoubtedly his best so far!

Nimrat Kaur is seen after two years of her praiseworthy performance in ‘Lunchbox’ that was released in 2013. Paired opposite Akshay Kumar as Amrita Katyal, Ranjit Katyal’s wife, Nimrat was no less a performer in Airlift. One time she absolutely stole the show was with her spot on speech to support her husband. Also, as an on-screen couple, the pairing of Akshay-Nimrat was appealing.

Actor Inaamulhaq who had played the role of a Pakistani in the movie Filmistaan, which even got a National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, is playing an antagonist in ‘Airlift’. As an Iraqi major Khalaf Bin Zayd, though Inaamulhaq has a crucial and evil role to play, he surely seemed to have struggled a lot with that fake accent.

Kumud Mishra, who worked in films like Rockstar, Filmistaan and Raanjhanaa, plays a significant character in the movie. As Sanjiv Kohli, an officer in the Ministry of External Affairs, he was endearing. Prakash Belawadi as George Kutty was annoying (because of his role was such) only as an over inquisitive, stubborn man, and not with his act.

Lena, Purab Kohli and Feryna Wazheir were good in the respective pivotal roles they played.

Where the first half sets the plot of the story and leaves you with hopes and prayers for every Indian who is yearning to be saved, the second half rushes up the real action of evacuation but still brings in a sigh of relief without going overboard on the drama.

The Music of Airlift:

When the plot of the movie is so authentic and patriotic, viewers do not expect much from the music of the film. But, but its very first song, ‘Soch Na Sake‘ stole our hearts with its beautiful lyrics and endearing chemistry between Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur. The song is an adaptation from Hardy Sandhu’s ‘Soch’ and fits remarkably with the soul of the situation and characters, particularly when you hear it after this conversation between the two leading actors. You won’t get tired of this romantic number from Airlift:

Bagdad Mat Jao Ranjit

It’s Not Safe

Tum Kyun Nahi Meri koi bhi Baat Samjh rahe ho aaj kal”

Aaj Kal Naa Tum Mujhe Samjh Paa Rahi Ho Na Main

Hamare Haalat Galat Hain

Lekin Hum Nahi”

Music composer Amaal Mallik, and music director and singer Ankit Tiwari, and popular Indian lyricist Kumaar (Rakesh Kumar) have together worked for the film score of Airlift. The complete music of the film was released on 24th December 2015, and there are five songs in the music album of Airlift.

Another hit song, “Dil Cheez Tujhe Dedi” sung by Ankit Tiwari and Arijit Singh sets the mood with its rustic Arabic-Western feel. It surely reminds you of the famous number from the 90’s – ‘Didi Didi’ by Khaled. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself swaying to those Arabic notes!

Mera Nachan Nu” is another typical Punjabi track, loud, lively and full bhangra beats and celebration. “Tu Bhool Ja” is a patriotic song and perfectly goes with Akshay Kumar’s words and the essence that made entire evacuation operation possible – “aaj unhe bacha sakta hain toh vo Desh

jisse unhone khud yaad karna band kar diya tha”. Being an Indian, you can only feel and live this song, it cannot be expressed and definitely not judged.

Overall, the music of Airlift is impressive.

Details of songs in the movie:

“Soch Na Sake”

Singers: Arijit Singh, Tulsi Kumar, Amaal Mallik

Duration: 04:40

“Dil Cheez Tujhe Dedi”

Singers: Ankit Tiwari, Arijit Singh

Duration: 04:31

“Mera Nachan Nu”

Singers: Brijesh Shandilya, Divya Kumar, Amaal Mallik

Duration: 03:42

“Tu Bhoola Jise”

Singers: K.K.

Duration: 04:31

“Soch Na Sake (Solo Version)”

Singers: Arijit Singh

Duration: 04:41

What’s good: It is a movie to be proud of. The script does justice to the real story, and effortless performances ensure a spellbinding cinematic experience. It gives you goosebumps, makes you cry, and then at the end it leaves you with a sense of pride, relief and a smile. The story and the picturisation is gripping, with no over the top drama or sound score. ‘Airlift’ is surely among the best movies worth acclamation and bringing it to the audience was surely a big challenge. Hats off to you Mr Raja Mohan! Brilliant work done! A well timed, Republic Day release.

What’s bad: Finding anything bad in the movie is tough when you are emotionally involved into the story. But a few edits could have worked even better for the film. One, the song of celebration ‘Mera Nachan Nu’ half way in the story popped in from nowhere. It could have been avoided. Secondly, in approximately two hours, the film tries to sum up the efforts of 59 of rescue mission plus 2 days (including 1st August 1990, the day before Kuwait was invaded on 2nd August 1990). A little more portion of the plot could have been given to the actual ‘Airlift’ mission that was undertaken by Air India.  Matthews and Vedi were the real men who masterminded this rescue mission and are the inspiration behind Rajit Katyal’s character played by Akshay Kumar. This left me wondering, what if the movie had two lead protagonists?

Verdict: Please, go watch ‘Airlift’. DO NOT miss this one!

Airlift Rating: ****

(P.S.: Everything about the movie keeps you at the edge of your seat. You feel every bit of it, because it is indeed not just a movie, it is what happened. The sincere efforts of the film-maker and everyone involved in showcasing such an tremendous story from the pages of history with sheer brilliance deserves a standing ovation.)

Trivia about Airlift!

  • Based on a true story, Airlift of Indians from Kuwait in 1990 holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people (1,70,0000 Indians) evacuated by a civil airline (Air India) in a span of 59 days.

  • In reality, some big Indian businessmen united to oversee the evacuation of Indians from war-torn Kuwait. Ranjit Katyal, the character Akshay Kumar plays in the movie is inspired from these men.

  • The daredevil actor Akshay Kumar has yet another surprise for his audience! Having full confidence and faith in the potential of the movie Airlift, Akshay decided not to charge a single penny but rather asked as 80% share in profits as remuneration. The film was made in a budget of Rs 30 crore, but we hope that the movie works wonders for our khiladi!

  • According to the star actor Akshay Kumar everything in the movie is so real and is all about ‘I am proud to be an Indian’ that even while shooting the emotional scenes, the actor himself could feel every bit of it and did not need any glycerine.

  • The “Rock On!!” actor Purab Kohli who can also be seen in the movie took Arabic lessons as he was always attracted to the Arabic culture, like he stated. Even Akshay Kumar learned the language for his role of Ranjit Katyal in Airlift.

  • Airlift has been shot in parts of Delhi, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. To make it look as authentic as possible, even the sets for the film in Ras Al-Khaima, UAE were re-designed to represent Kuwait of 1990s.

  • Airlift collected approximately Rs 1.66 crores in UAE and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries on Thursday, 21st January 2016 – highest opening day for an Akshay Kumar’s starrer!

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