Compelling and spirit lifting
Raja Krishna Menon gives you cracker of a film – a type that we have not seen in a long time. Both in content and in style the film holds the interest ...
Raja Krishna Menon gives you cracker of a film – a type that we have not seen in a long time. Both in content and in style the film holds the interest and attention of the viewer without pretentions and places before you arguably one of the best exercises without being emotionally manipulative. This in itself is a huge challenge for an artist who is often tempted to fall into the many attractive potholes of dramatic temptations.
The storyline is simple. It deals with a real life incident where a Kuwait-based businessman oversees actively the operations to airlift the largest contingent of people through private airlines from war affected Kuwait after the Saddam regime attacked the country. Caught in the crossfire are over a lakh and more Indians who are clueless and literally held hostage. On one hand is the fire brigade gone wrong, terribly wrong. On the other is the Indian bureaucracy which takes its own time to even react to the looming tragedy.
Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is a rich businessman in Kuwait with wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) who is never afraid to speak her mind, live a life of luxury and domestic bliss till Saddam’s troops decide to attack Kuwait. Even as the tanks ruffle the desert sands and the truckloads of gun trotting men reach Kuwait, life changes drastically. Those living in the lower echelons find the challenge even sharper. While the embassy is indifferent, as an employer Ranjit is first required to deal with his employees and then the larger group of Indians who are helpless.
The crowd contains an Iraqi girl who also would want to escape; there is also George Kutty (Prakash Belawadi) who is the cribbing man who expects favours on the platter. What makes the film endearing is the how the film script sticks to the narrative and refuses to move anywhere away from the central factor. The amazing editing by Hemanti Sarkar is so crisp that you can find no holes in the storytelling. Then there is the amazing cinematography by Priya Seth.
Her lens speaks volumes and robs the dialogue writer of any need to get voltage words. The manner her camera pans the ruins, the destruction is a reminder to the viewer that it was not only the Jews who suffered or that Hitler was the last perverted destroyer. All this is stated without taking any political sides. If any it is on India and its lethargic government that pot shots are taken. The grandeur of the film, its scale and mounting are worth watching.
It is indeed noteworthy that the filmmaker does not lose the crux of the tale to the gloss of the mount. He ensures at all points in time that it is people and their suffering that constitute the crux of the drama. The actors here are not stars. They perform with a simplicity that depicts a slice of their lives albeit a nightmarish slice. Performers like Kumud Mishra as the low ranking official in the foreign affairs department and the actor who plays Major Khalaf bin Zayd are so real that you wonder if the filmmaker sneaked in a few pages from avant-garde cinema.
This is not art film in that dubious referral stance. From the first moments when he is tense with his wife on coming to know of the attack till the finale when he ensures the last contingent has left for Indian soil Akshay Kumar lives every moment of the 123 minutes with a sincerity that is unknown to mainstream cinema generally. This grossly underrated actor takes the script with his presence and navigation to a must see level. Matching him in the first major appearance in a mainstream film is Nimrat Kaur.
Why is our cinema overlooking this bundle of talent? Or is that the reason? She is so correct that she could put the normal wife to shame! This film is a must-see for many reasons. Firstly it is an entertainer that chugs your emotions and tickles your intelligence. It does not overstate. It helps you connect with the tricolour without having to chest beating. Above all it is in a way spirit lifting. This ‘Airlift’ is spirit lifting. Do not miss it for anything.
Cast : Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur
Direction : Raja Krishna Menon
Genre : Thriller
Like : Crisp and honest
Dislike : Nothing really
Rating : 5 Stars