evacuation of 1,70,000 Indians from Kuwait after the invasion by Iraqi dictator
Saddam Hussain, needed to be documented on film. This operation already has a
place in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the unprecedented number of
people who were ferried by an airline.
Raja Krishna Menon and actor Akshay Kumar, therefore, deserve a pat on the back
for the attempt to tell this inspirational true life tale.
Kumar plays unflinchingly ruthless businessman Ranjit Katiyal who’s well
connected with the higher-ups and lives in a palatial mansion in Kuwait with
wife Amrita and a little daughter.
wakes up from paradise when Iraqi soldiers march in and go on a rampage in
Kuwait. Thousands are rendered homeless overnight, their lives in danger.
Ranjit is hit hard when his favourite Malayali driver is shot by the soldiers
and thus begins his transformation. Even when his friend Major Zayd who is in
charge of Kuwait offers Ranjit an opportunity to flee with his family, his
newly-awakened conscience forces him to stay back and help his workers. The
numbers who seek shelter from Ranjit swell but the Government of India drags
its feet over taking a decision and a ship scheduled to take home women and
children can’t dock in Kuwait.
Menon makes an impact with the initial sequences of the brutal invasion. But Airlift soon peters out into more of an
insipid documentary than an inspired sample of filmmaking.
starts off as a woman who can’t think beyond the safety of her family and is
disgusted with her husband’s magnanimity. But begins to understand and stand by
him. Ranjit ultimately manages to lead everyone to safety as Air India finally
begins the mass evacuation.
Kumar is sincere in this emotionally motivated role but Nimrit Kaur lacks the
bite that should’ve been seen in a confrontation between husband and wife.
Kumud Mishra is first-rate as a helpful officer while Prakash Belawadi is
sufficiently irritating as nit-picking George Kutty.
Airlift is a Republic Day release but there’s hardly any dialogue
or scene to stir patriotic feelings. Nor is there the element of nail-biting
thrill. With the exception of ‘Soch na
sake’, the music too doesn’t have a patriotic flavour. Noble intentions cannot make up for deficient
film that lets down the audience as much as the Indian government did, Airlift gets a 2.5* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Journalist & Author