Akshay Kumar: Airlift evacuation of Indians ought to be in textbooks
Actor Akshay Kumar feels that the real-life story of his upcoming film 'Airlift', based on the biggest evacuation operation of Indians in Kuwait during the 90s when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain invaded his neighbouring country, deserves to find a mention in textbooks.
In 1990, Hussain invaded Kuwait. The Iraqi Army took over the city within a few hours. Kuwait, at that time, was home to almost 170,000 Indians, and people had suddenly become penniless and homeless.
'Airlift' is a heroic story of Ranjit Katyal (played by Akshay Kumar), a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman. With the help of the Indian government, he safely evacuated 170,000 of his countrymen, helping them get back home.
"I think entire family should go and see this film, and this episode should be in textbooks. When we talk about history they don't mention this, as there was a big political reason behind it. That time we were close to Saddam and we wanted to keep low profile, and so all these things were hidden," Akshay said in a media interaction here.
"I think this piece of history has to be in the textbooks.
Its a very big thing what India did... They did something which was unbelievable. Even commercial pilots went in the war zone and brought people back," he added.
The 48-year-old actor is surprised that there is hardly any mention about this episode even in media.
"When they came to me I loved the script... It was so real.. The drama. Its a great film to do. Its something hidden and I would love to bring it in front of audience," he said.
"There were hardly one or two articles on this in newspapers. Like in Yemen, thousands of people were saved and the news is all over but this.. I don't know how they managed it (to hide it)," he added.
When the "Special 26" star first heard about the incident, he was surprised.
"This is a real story. This story was hidden from all of us. India did a big thing of bringing back 1,70,000 Indians and it is there in the World Guinness records... It is the biggest airlift evacuation done by any country," he said.
"Their experience was unbelievable. You are a billionaire and Saddam Hussein attacks and you have no money... I found it all unbelievable," he added.
The actor also expressed his desire to meet this businessman who helped Indians.
"I am playing this character who in real life is still alive.. He is a big businessman. I cannot talk about him much.
He is still in Kuwait. I did not meet him but my director and all have spoken to him over phone," he added.
For this role, Akshay spoke a bit of Arabic language.
"It is a hard language. I did speak but it was difficult I had to by-heart the language," he adds.
For reference to play this character, Akshay revisited Balraj Sahni's film 'Waqt' as he could connect with the emotions. Besides, he also met a few pilots.
"I had seen Balraj Sahni's 'Waqt' and in that how a happy family gets affected due to earthquake. That film got stuck in my mind. When the Iraqi people attacked, the biggest trouble was they were killing lot of Kuwaitis... They used to ask for passports and if you don't have it then they used to kill you," he added.
The film directed by Raja Menon also stars Nimrat Kaur. It is set to release on January 22 next year.