Release Date: 19 January 2016
Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravjiani
Based on: Neerja Bhanot
Directed by: Ram Madhvani
Produced by: Atul Kasbekar, Shanti Sivaram Maini, Bling Unplugged, Fox Star Studios
Production Company: Fox Star Studios
Music by: Vishal Khurana
Written by: Saiwyn Quadras
Dialogues: Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh
Cinematography: Mitesh Mirchandani
Duration: 2 hrs and 02 mins
Genres: Biopic, Drama
Censor Rating: U
About the Movie Neerja
Since the very first release of the year 2016, Wazir, Bollywood is leaving its viewers awestruck with exceptional and engaging cinematic experiences week after week. Last month Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Airlift’ shared a soul stirring story stupendously and made us proud as an Indian, and today Ram Madhvani’s directorial debut, ‘Neerja’ is all geared up to move its audience with a powerful real story of brave heart and selfless young girl Neerja Bhanot, who was a purser for Pan Am and got killed by a terrorist while she did her best and saved passengers on the flight after it was hijacked.
It would have been an honour for Sonam Kapoor to play Neerja and even to share the screen with veteran actress Shabana Azmi. While the critics and Bollywood are giving thumbs up to ‘Neerja’, it is time for us to find out whether the fashionista gave her best to one of the most talked about movies of the year – ‘Neerja’!
The Plot of Neerja:
‘Neerja’ is a biopic based on Neerja Bhanot, a 23-year-old air hostess with Pan Am flight 73 that got hijacked in Karachi, Pakistan, and how she selflessly did her best to save all the passengers while she herself was shot dead by the terrorist.
Neerja: Performance Review
Neerja is not just another movie but a heroic real story to be honoured, respected and be proud of. Director Ram Madhvani has given an exceptional portrayal of Neerja Bhanot’s heroism and courage without going over the top on drama yet hitting the right cords of our hearts. Every bit of the movie seems so real and precisely done.
Sonam Kapoor has definitely done justice to her character and made us see and feel Neerja in her. Though in the beginning of the movie we didn’t find Sonam any different from how she is in her previous movies, but later she is seen pulling of some of the scenes magnificently. For instance, when she reads out the letters of her husband to her family and later when she reads the letter in the flight which Jaideep had written for her.
Shabana Azmi and Yogendra Tiku were brilliant as Neerja’s parents. Their conversation when they actually get to know that Neerja’s flight has been hijacked is heart wrenching. Shabana Azmi’s speech at the end is remarkable.
Singer Shekhar Ravjiani as Jaideep was neither convincing nor himself seemed comfortable as an actor.
Music of Neerja:
Notable lyricist, screenwriter and ad guru, Prasoon Joshi has written the songs of Neerja while the music has been composed by Vishal Khurana.
“Yaadon ke bakson mein zinda si khushboo hai, Kehti hai sab pichhe chhodenge”
“Ungliyon se kal ki ret behne de, Aaj aur abhi mein khud ko rehne de”
These are lines from the song – “Jeete Hain Chal” and beautifully convey how one should ideally live life. The song has been sung by Kavita Seth and is inspiring and uplifting.
Look fearlessly into the eyes of the fear to fight it. Now, that is the mantra which the song “Aankhein Milayenge Darr Se” is expressing through power of words, youth and fearless eyes. The song has its own tempo and feel but, does it fit well in the album for a serious biopic like Neerja, well maybe not.
“Ghera Ishq”, a romantic number from the album of Neerja, sung by Shekhar Ravjiani. Starting as low note pacifier, the song renders more like a qawwali, thus weakening its composure.
“Aisa Kyun Maa” is a gem from the entire album, emotional, heart-wrenching and grievous to its core. This ode to every mother will surely make you cry your heart out because some ‘thank yous’ cannot be just expressed with words or hugs.
Details of songs in the movie:
Song: “Jeete Hain Chal”
Singers: Kavita Seth, Arun Ingle, Mandar Apte, R.N. Iyer, Archana Gore, Mayuri Patwardhan, Pragati Mukund Joshi, Vishal Khurana
Duration: 04 mins 09 secs
Song: “Aankhein Milayenge Darr Se”
Singers: K. Mohan, Neha Bhasin
Duration: 02 mins 57 secs
Song: “Gehra Ishq”
Singers: Shekhar Ravjiani
Duration: 03 mins 27 secs
Song: “Aisa Kyun Maa”
Singers: Sunidhi Chauhan
Duration: 03 mins 40 secs
What’s good: A realistic attempt to bring the remarkable story of Neerja Bhanot and her courage with such sincerity and realism is commendable. Shabana Azmi and Yogendra Tiku were extraordinary in their respective performances.
What’s bad: Though the movie goes at a decent pace, but the scenes of actual evacuations seemed abrupt.
Verdict: Neerja is not just a movie to be watched, but a spirited tale to be felt and be kept alive forever in our hearts. Definitely a must watch.
Neerja Rating: ****
Trivia about Neerja!
- Neerja Bhanot was born in Chandigarh. Her father Harish Bhanot was then a Mumbai based journalist with The Hindustan Times and her mother Rama Bhanot a homemaker.
- Neerja Bhanot got married at a very young age of 21 years and moved to the Gulf but due to the dowry pressure, she moved back to her family in Mumbai within two months, where she later joined Pan Am.
- The hijackers of the plane belonged to the Abu Nidal Organisation, backed by Libya. They wanted to threaten Americans but Neerja and her attendants collected the passports of the 41 American passengers on board and hid them so that the terrorist fail to distinguish between them and the rest of the passengers.
- Neerja Bhanot, the ‘heroine of the hijack’ like she is fondly recognised internationally, is the youngest recipient of the prestigious Ashok Chakra award.
- Neerja was shot while she was saving three children and saved the lives of 369 passengers on the flight. One of these three kids is today a pilot and idolizes Neerja Bhanot. Even the Pakistani government awarded her the Tamgha-e-Insaniyat award for her incredible kindness and she posthumously received many awards from the US government. To commemorate her courage and bravery, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp in 2004.
- Neerja was shot dead on 5 September 1986, just two days before her birthday.
- She was even into modeling and featured in TV commercials including Vico Turmeric, Vaporex, Godrej Besto detergent, Binaca Toothpaste, among others.
- There is a square called Neerja Bhanot Chowk in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, named after the brave heart girl and was inaugurated by Amitabh Bachchan in 1990s.
- Sonam Kapoor shared in one of her interviews that she was under a lot of pressure to do justice to her titular role as Neerja and had even met Neerja Bhanot’s family. Her mother breathed her last on 5 December 2015 and like all mothers do, told Sonam that her daughter was prettier.
- The biographic story of Neerja’s fearlessness and courage was also covered in Life OK’s TV show – Savdhaan India where actress and model Karishma Tanna played the role of Neerja Bhanot.
- It is a debut movie for both, the director Ram Madhvani and singer Shekhar Ravjiani who is seen in a pivotal role in the movie.
- The director Ram Madhvani and Creative officer of Fox Studios Rucha Pathak decided to re-create Pan Am Flight 73 which was quite a challenge for the team. It took 48 days to design the plane that had the essence of the 1980s planes.
- The film has been banned in Pakistan allegedly for portraying the country in a negative light.
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