1,70,000 Indians, 488 Flights, 59 days and 1 man, we’ve seen this promotional message for the movie Airlift all over. But when you sit down to imagine the scale of it, it leaves you baffled and you wonder is it even possible for one man to achieve this. A story of an Indian in a foreign land, living a life of luxury and comfort that he doesn’t even consider himself an Indian but a native of the foreign land. A land which turns into a war zone and the Indian community disowned by the local government and unsure about the stance of the Indian government are left to fend for themselves.
Desperate times calls for desperate measure and this is what Akshay Kumar’s character does in the movie. He forgets that he has a family of 3 but realizes he has a family of more than 1.5 lakh Indians living in a country they considered their own but that has abandoned them to the mercy of a ruthless invading army. Brilliant performances by Akshay Kumar as a business tycoon Ranjit Katiyal (loosely based on two Indian businessmen Vedi and Matthews) and Nimrat Kaur as his concerned, nagging and supportive wife. Supported well by the VJ turned actor Purab Kohli, Prakash Belawadi as the ever cynical Mr. George and Kumud Mishra (The Canteen owner in Rockstar) as the Joint Secretary of MEA who is the Babu who sees the safe passage of Indians.
Raja Menon’s direction is tightly bound and just 10 minutes into the movie, he takes off, controls the plot and never lets it go without being too overtly gory about details. The movie ends on a patriotic note as expected and though dramatization did take over some sequences, the transformation of the protagonist from a Ruthless, selfish, profit-hungry business man, to a messiah and a noble character has been effectively portrayed.
Though the story is based on real and true events, it is not entirely how it happened and in fact another website has gone to the extent of saying that the whole plot of the movie is a con-job by Akshay Kumar and the film crew. Great timing one would say as it is the Republic day weekend and great time to cash on the patriotic passion. But then, isn’t it too much in fashion to find flaws in something that makes the masses feel good. Or are we a generation that looks for more negativity than positivity. I believe a country is not made up of the government or politicians who stick to their kursis (chairs) for 5 years like parasites, nor do I think a Babu (crude term for a a bureaucrat) can work unless there is a catalyst. It’s people like you and me and the character portrayed by Akshay, which make a country. The compassion and feeling of ownership for ones’ fellow citizens is what a country is all about. The need to help a fellow countryman in need is what a country is all about. A man who tapped his network, his resources and his negotiating skills to get people to safety and who acted as a catalyst, while being cynical about the system, rose up for his fellow countrymen.
I say, enjoy the movie, clap your heart out, be proud you are an Indian, get inspired and be thankful that someone made a brilliant movie which helps breed more patriots, who the more intellectual breed calls jingoistic! I can only hope that Indians continue to rise to the occasion whenever the need arises and a movie like Airlift (no matter how true or false it is) can get us inspired from such acts of valour!