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Airlift - Movie Review

Airlift :


Airlift is a heroic story of a man Ranjit Katyal (role played by Akshay Kumar), a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman who had always seen himself as a Kuwaiti and not Indian. But he has a change of heart when he, with the help of the Indian government, evacuates around 1,70,000 Indians back to their country during the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1990. This saga of a rescue mission that made it to the Guinness Book of World Records warms the cockles of one's heart but isn't jingoistic in the least. Airlift tells how the Indian government evacuation of 1,70,000 people of Indian origin and also of other nationalities through 488 flights during the Iraq-Kuwait war. The film, which has Nimrat Kaur in the lead opposite Akshay, has been appreciated by the fans and critics alike.

The film, written and directed by Raja Menon, stars Nimrat Kaur and Purab Kohli in key roles. The film shows diplomats living times of Iraq Attacked Kuwait and leaving helpless Indian nationals behind. As the embassy shut down, it fell upon a band of local businessmen Ranjit Katyal, including Akshay Kumar, to organize a refugee camp, negotiate with the Iraqis and return home. It also showed that external affairs ministry was least interested in evacuating Indians.

This is a movie that is a portrayal of a plethora of character traits like pride, dignity, respect, courage, intrepidity, love and sympathy for those around you, trust and a burning want to live another day, to survive and be rescued, saved, airlifted. 

Airlift Movie Pictures

Directed by         Raja Krishna Menon
Produced by        Nikhil Advani
                          Monisha Adwani
                          Aruna Bhatia
                          Madhu G. Bhojwani
                          Bhushan Kumar
                          Krishan Kumar
                          Vikram Malhotra
Written by           Raja Krishna Menon
                          Suresh Nair
                          Rahul Nangia
                          Ritesh Shah
Cast                    Akshay Kumar
                          Nimrat Kaur
                          Feryna Wazheir
Music by             Amaal Mallik
                          Ankit Tiwari
Release dates      22 January 2016 (India)
Duration             125 minutes
Country              India
Language            Hindi
Budget               ₹30 crore (US$4.4 million)

Box office           ₹138.15 crore (US$20 million) (7 days worldwide)

Story :

The film’s narrative begins on the D-day – August 1990, when Iraq President Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait. Ranjit, a business tycoon, has closed a few deals, bought one of the most sought after places in town and trumped a friend-cum-business rival. He can’t wait to get home to celebrate. The same night, Iraqi forces attack the city and are running a riot.

It is August 1990. Kuwait-based Indian businessman Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is awoken rudely from slumber by the news that Iraqi forces have attacked the city. It is the sort of awakening that shakes loose Katyal from his cocooned wealthy life, which he shares with his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and young daughter, forcing him to deal with a series of dangerous situations, and leading to the evacuation of more than a lakh Indians stuck between Saddam Hussain’s brutal forces and an alarmingly slow-to-take-heed Indian state.

Over 59 days, the Indian government systematically flew over 488 Air India commercial flights into a war zone to evacuate and safely bring them back home. Airlift is an uplifting and entertaining edge-of-the-seat thriller and is the story of the biggest ever human evacuation in the history of mankind.

Airlift delves into the pain of a refugee community, showcasing human emotions that defy class barriers and the actors make it all very identifiable. It is the story of a business-minded tycoon who turned Samaritan not because he is a great human being but more because the tragedy demands that. And that makes it a more of an intriguing watch. Menon peels back the layers to Ranjit’s personality. 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 is all that seems to matter. Akshay’s first dialogue – ‘Profit explains everything’ – is a key insight into Ranjit’s psyche. This is significant as the plot line builds from here.

Hindi cinema history tells us that mainstream storytellers in Bollywood face many a pitfall when they work with real-life stories. They frequently succumb to the temptation to inject exaggerated drama into the narrative. In the bargain, they end up tumbling with a thud between two stools. Neither is it easy for their ilk to handle a tale of heroism aimed at highlighting what "we Indians" can achieve when we all deign to pull in the same direction. Mumbai filmmakers have all too often turned such accounts into flabby, flag-waving exercises meant only for those who buy into such counterfeit cinematic constructs.

The film is based on the real-life conflict and bloodshed that took place twenty-five years back in Kuwait, and the way it is done—with a sense of urgency and immediacy, bringing alive a city overrun and under siege—sends out a crucial message to star-driven-yet-drivel-producing Bollywood. That given the backing of an A-list star, anything is possible: well done, Akshay Kumar, for donning the producer-with-conviction hat to create a crackling film.


What Akshay Kumar Says About The movie :

Akshay Kumar had recently said that films like Airlift come once in a lifetime for any actor. Akshay Kumar Wrote “While most of you have written I should do more films like ‘Airlift’… I wish I could but honestly, films like these come very rarely, almost once in an actor’s lifetime and I am extremely fortunate to be a part of it. Thank you all for everything,”. 


Akshay Kumar also puts more efforts to promote this movie as compared to all others.

Box Office Collection :

Airlift starring Akshay Kumar continued with its excellent business at the box office and its collections are now Rs 138.15 crore after a week of its release. Airlift, which has been liked by critics and fans alike, has benefited from good word of mouth. Akshay’s acting in the film has been appreciated.

 Airlift had collected Rs. 12.35 cr. on its opening day, next day it earned Rs. 14.60 cr. On the third day collections were even higher as it grossed Rs. 17.35 cr. Though the collections went down to Rs. 10.40 cr on the fourth day but the film witnessed a rise in its collections of Day 5 – January 26. Trade expert Taran Adarsh, who has been sharing the daily collections, shared fresh data: “#Airlift Fri 12.35 cr, Sat 14.60 cr, Sun 17.35 cr, Mon 10.40 cr, Tue 17.80 cr, Wed 6 cr, Thu 5 cr.

Review :

While former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao was highly critical of the film in her tweet, Vikas Swarup was more diplomatic yet focussed on the ministry’s effort. He mentioned that official delegation was sent to Baghdad and Kuwait and that tremendous coordination was put in place with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Air India and a host of other government departments. “I myself can vouch for this as I myself was on the front lines of evacuating Indians from Kuwait who was coming to Turkey via Syria,” Swarup said.

Airlift has one of Akshay Kumar's best performances - along with other sterling acts. Rich Indian-origin businessman Ranjit Katyal (Akshay) loves profits and dislikes the idea of India. But Ranjit's golden life in the desert crumbles when Iraqi forces invade Kuwait. Suddenly, people are savagely shot in the streets, houses looted, buildings were blown up, tanks taking over, choppers hovering maliciously amidst minarets.


Fact Story :

August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1990 was in debt to the tune of US $80 billion because of the long-drawn Iran conflict that it had undertaken. Iraq wanted the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and specifically, Kuwait, to reduce oil production to create a scarcity of oil leading to increasing oil prices, thereby helping Iraq raise more money. But, both the OPEC and Kuwait refused, leaving Iraq furious. On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. 

The Iraqi army took over the city within a few hours. The Kuwaiti royal family managed to escape to Saudi Arabia, leaving the state rudderless. The city was looted and the general population subjugated and made to suffer great tragedies at the hands of the Iraqi army. Kuwait was home to almost 1,70,000 Indians, all of who had suddenly lost all their money were homeless and scared for their lives. 

Some of the Indian businessmen got together to form a group that would oversee the evacuation of the huge Indian contingent from war-torn Kuwait. The evacuation was no easy task, as most Indians were not ready to leave everything they had worked for so hard, for so many years. Neither could they, as they did not have valid travel papers as the employers used to hold on to their employee passports once they landed in Kuwait, and those Kuwaiti employees were either dead or had fled by then.

The India Political scenario in 1990: Politically, India was at its most unstable with VP Singh as its Prime Minister, with the opposition threatening to bring the government down. Not only was India financially in trouble, but also 40% of its crude oil came from that region that was now stuck because of the war.

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