Director: Raja Krishna Menon
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Kumud Mishra, Prab Kohli, Inaamulhaq
Run time: 125 minutes
‘Airlift’ is the tale of the largest civil operation in the history of the world, where almost two lakh Indians were evacuated from Kuwait during the Iraq-Kuwait war.
The film unfolds with Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait-based Indian businessman, who has almost forgotten his motherland, living a merry life in Kuwait, realizing his duty as a human being and an Indian, and eventually carrying out a huge civil operation of evacuation of 1,70,000 Indians based in Kuwait during the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1990.
Akshay’s star power definitely elevates the film. Ranjit Katyal is made authentic as Akshay does not display faux heroism for an unshowy heroism, and there is no one else who could have done the job better. His role seems to be inspired slightly by Liam Neeson in ‘Schindler’s List’. One may also find similarities between ‘Airlift’ and Ben Affleck starrer Hollywood evacuation tale, ‘Argo’. ‘Airlift’ takes us through a journey of the awakened sense of responsibility which Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) terms as a ‘manufacturing defect in some humans’ with thrilling empathy. A very crucial character in the movie is Sanjeev Kohli (Kumud Mishra) the government official who makes the evacuation of the Indians successful by convincing the ministers in India. Acting throughout the film is natural and also entertaining at times when the Iraqi general (Inaamulhaq) speaks in Hindi with an Arabic accent!
Bollywood has not been very famous for films based on real-life events because it mostly does not successfully connect the line between fact and fiction, which is extremely important for this genre. What often happens is an overdone representation with enormous drama and exaggeration of facts! But Raja Krishna Menon’s ‘Airlift’ plays it right, with the proportionate amount of drama, thrill, patriotism, fact and history.
For an overall evaluation, Menon has directed his actors perfectly to represent the Indian sentiment through their performance. Amaal Malllik and Ankit Tiwari’s music direction has served the film well, with less number of songs and relevant background score, which shall evoke a feeling of patriotism and give goose-bumps to many Indians.
Cinematographer Priya Seth had captured strong and predominantly masculine images flawlessly showing the fearful and tragic situations in the war zone. Hemanti Sarkar’s editing is impeccably executed throughout as well.
The concept of an individual escalating to tackle an enormous crisis is placed at a key position in the plot. The scriptwriters Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah, Rahul Nangia and director Menon, have researched Saddam’s invasion suitably yet they did not allow the narrative to be boring or too preachy by the politics of history. ‘Airlift’ without any second thought is a worthy watch as it is informative, real-like and non-exaggerated.