Director: Raja Krishna Menon
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Purab Kohli, Kumud Mishra
Nimrat Kaur and Akshay Kumar in 'Airlift'. Pic/Santa Banta
'Airlift' is based on an episode that Indians would be proud to be associated with — the largest human evacuation in history, when the Indian government in 1990 managed to airlift about one and half lakh Indians from Kuwait as it turned into a war zone following Iraq's invasion.
The film, directed by Raja Krishna Menon, takes us back to the horrid phase when Saddam Hussein-led Iraqi soldiers killed, looted and created havoc in Kuwait and it was up to the Indian government and a few influential Indians there to steer their stranded countrymen to the safety of their home country. Since the actual operation has largely gone undocumented, it is difficult to say how close Menon's version of the story is to what really happened back then.
Nevertheless, this solid movie makes for such a riveting watch that you are almost convinced to being in the middle of that powerful operation which must have been a logistical nightmare, as most of the lakh-plus Indians stranded were not even in possession of their passports.
Menon retells the story through Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), loosely based on businessman Sunny Mathew, an influential and wealthy Indian based in Kuwait. So ingrained is Ranjit in his lifestyle in the migrant country that he likes to identify himself more as a Kuwaiti than Indian. But when crisis strikes and faced with his fellow Indians' desperate helplessness, Ranjit rises to the occasion and sacrifices his own safety for them. Appointing himself as their leader and with the help of a handful of friends, he starts knocking on the doors of the Indian bureaucracy for help, even as he is negotiating with the wily Iraqi general (Inaam-ul-Haq). Ranjit finally finds a ray of hope in the form of a kind bureaucrat, Sanjeev Kohli (Kumud Mishra), who empathises with the plight of the stranded Indians and invests all his might into putting the rescue operation in place.
This is, arguably, Akshay's best performance till date. He is absolutely flawless as he moves from being a cool, practical businessman in control of his life to a selfless, emotional man of action. Nimrat Kaur, who plays Ranjit's wife, is understated and only stands out in one scene where she confronts a dissenting gent in defence of her husband.
Menon's deft execution of the plot in hand, crisp editing (Hemanti Sarkar), dialogues which are perfectly tailored for the script, and good cinematography (Priya Seth) make this film a must watch. Don't miss it.
Watch the trailer of 'Airlift'