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Airlift (Hindi Movie)
Starring :   Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Inaamulhaq, Prakash Belawadi, Kumud Mishra, Purab Kohli, Feryna Wazheir
Producer :  Nikhil Advani
Director :  Raja Krishna Menon
Music :  Amaal Mallik , Ankit tiwari

Review by : Kriti Agarwal
Rating : 4.5 out of 5

What's about : 
Airlift is a tale of heroism, courage, patriotism,  edge-of-the-seat and heart-stopping. It deserves a standing ovation.
Set in the pre-liberalisation, pre-satellite television days and cracking open the bureaucratic gridlock takes a mammoth efforts .The character that Akshay plays is a conflation of two real-life NRI entrepreneurs- Sunny Mathews and Vedi  ,who stepped up when the chips were down .

I myself was a grade 7 student then in the gulf & lived personally through those horror days . Here are some of my personal stories ,heard from my parents , teachers and TV .

While the Kuwaiti Royal family escaped to Saudi Arabia, the general population suffered great tragedies and loss.
The first challenge was to prepare over 100,000 travel documents. Delhi had sent two planes for evacuation. Ships began arriving a lot later. Sunny Mathews, an Indian working in Toyota, negotiated with private bus operators for evacuation to Jordan by road. These were 2,000 km trips thru desert roads.

People were not ready to leave behind things they had spent their entire lives earning in Kuwait. They were reluctant to leave their well-settled lives. Many Indians did not have valid travel papers, as they had handed them over to their Kuwaiti employers who were either missing or dead.

Our prime minister Mr. V. P Singh was unable to do anything for a huge number of Indians who were in danger in Kuwait. The help reached on August 14 (12 days after the invasion ), Indian citizens were angry But, the then Foreign Minister I.K. Gujral quickly brought the crowd under control .

There were also some Pakistani Airline crew stranded in Kuwait and they wished to be evacuated by Indian aircrafts. On humanitarian grounds, the Indian officials agreed. The successful operation that started on August 14 1990, continued for almost 2 months and created history.

Initially,  military aircraft's were arranged to evacuate . But due to a lengthy air space clearance procedure, this did not work. So the government turned to Air India ,Indian Airlines and the Air Force , made it to the Guinness Book of World Records .

Airlift  is a no-nonsense drama dealing with harsh realities of a time when death is lurking and time running out. It is also a tribute to the solidarity Indians manifested during the hard time of Kuwait-Iraq war in 1990.

Airlift not about a nation, it's about saving people  - 1,70,000 refugees, 488 flights & 59 days . Air India entered into Guinness Book of World Records for the civil airline that had evacuated the most people till date.

Airlift is NOT a copy of the 2012 Oscar-winning Hollywood movie  Agro -  evacuation of six Americans during Iran hostage crisis.

“Airlift” is the TRUE story of 1,70,000 Indians ,who were rescued from Kuwait , the spirit of patriotism and the reactions of ordinary people to extraordinary circumstances.  It will touch an emotional chord with Gulf Indians even after 25 years & leave you moist-eyed and your heart goes out for the helplessness of the victims.

Location : Al-Hamra Palace Beach Resort Ras al -Khaimah , United Arab Emiraates . and Bhuj Rajasthan .
Story :  

It is 2nd August, 1990. Kuwait-based Indian businessman  (Akshay Kumar) is awoken rudely from slumber by the news that Iraqi forces have attacked the city. Though of Indian origin, Ranjit detests being identified as an Indian. Also as one of Kuwait’s richest businessmen, he is full of himself and money . Akshay’s first dialogue – ‘Profit explains everything’ – The plot line builds from here. Katyal from his cocooned wealthy life, with his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and young daughter, deals with a series of dangerous situations.They aren't an ideal, lovey-dovey couple. They are frequently at each other's throat. But when push comes to shove, they stand up for each other.  Their daughter Simu is understandably the glue that keeps these Blue Valentines from parting ways.

He helps in evacuation of more than a lakh Indians stuck between Saddam Hussain’s brutal forces and an alarmingly slow-to-take-heed Indian state. While the Kuwaiti royal family escaped to Saudi Arabia,The Kuwaiti government deserted the city and Kuwaitis people were shot through the head wherever they were seen.

He sets up a refugee camp to house and feed thousands. He also negotiates with the then Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz, to ensure the safety of the Indians caught in the war. He opens a channel of communication with a solitary external affairs ministry official in Delhi, even after the embassy in Kuwait City is vacated and the stranded Indians are left to fend for themselves.

Airlift’s strength lies in the turbulent emotions of people at the mercy of each others generosity and self-preservation. Ranjit is suddenly acutely aware of the people around him including hundreds of his employees. Touching scenes like the interaction between Ranjit and his family, and with government officials are tightly edited to capture the pathos of the situation.

Characters :
Akshay Kumar [ Ranjit Katyal ] : impresses with his acting prowess, delivers an oeuvre-defining performance as the Baahubali of this crisis.
Nimrat kaur [ Amrita] : very good with a mix of controlled dialogue delivery and gestural restraint - the hallmark of a truly accomplished performer. Though as a decked-up bahu, straight out of TV soap opera with a penchant for cribbing looks , superficial.
Inaamulhaq  [Major Khalaf Bin Zayd ] : excellent  as Saddam’s Iraqi soldier who enjoys the sudden turning of power equations . Though his Arab accent as an Iraqi major is quite laughable.
Prakash Belawadi [ refugee George Kutty ] :  fabulous as the cynical, old refugee who is simply not ready to acknowledge the Katiyal’s efforts .
Purab Kohli [ Ibrahim Durrani ] : good , kohl-eyed and restrained and makes us feel for him,ever-dedicated and silent character .
Kumud Mishra  [ Sanjeev Kohli  ] : fits right in as Dilli babu
Pros : good film, solid plot, intelligent script, well executed and well-acted , a deftly done film , cinematography; be if BPL television, audio cassettes, Doordarshan logo, cars or even Sachin Tendulkar, every detailing of the frame has been done flawlessly;

Cons :  songs, underlined background music , slow pace .

Music : the filmmakers couldn’t let go of the masala and song-dance paraphernalia. An ‘Arabic’ number is thrown in for good measure. But in a film that hinges on realism, the songs are jarring. The songs struggle hard amid the fight of being emotional and patriotic at the same time.

Reasons to watch Airlift :

1 - It’s a story worth telling : Airlift is a true story , Civilians travelled tirelessly through desert terrain in desperate hope that their beloved motherland would have the courage to airlift them all out of Kuwait.

2 - It will highlight that even when it's people turn their backs on India in search of better horizons, India never turns its back on its people.

3 - This is not a fable to be enjoyed, it’s a heroic common-man endeavour, an ordinary citizen’s problem .”

4 - It was filmed in Ras Al Khaimah . Ras Al Khaimah was dressed up as 1990s Kuwait to bring Airlift to life. They removed all the latest model cars from the streets and replaced them with cars from the 1990s.

5 - This is not a war film ... it’s all soul . There is no song and dance formula .

6 -  Airlift is about the story that was never told to the world. It provides the facts as to what the Indian civilians in Kuwait went through during the Iraqi War .

Bottom line :  Airlift isn't Bollywood at all; it is an Indian film with Indian sensibility. Airlift is un-miss-able. A film that every Indian, and every Bollywood buff -despairing for genuinely high quality storytelling, MUST WATCH
Videos

0:01 / 2:10 Exclusive Airlift Teaser | Akshay Kumar | Nimrat Kaur