You probably remember the moment you first heard of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, of Saddam Hussein, and of the incident that sparked off the Gulf War. Airlift, written and directed by Raja Menon, takes us back to that time in history, but we see it through the eyes of a wealthy Indian businessman living in Kuwait. Based on the largely forgotten real-life incident that involved the evacuation of 1,70,000 Indians stuck in Kuwait, Airlift is the inspiring story of an ordinary man who turns into a hero when faced with extraordinary circumstances.

We’re told the film’s protagonist, Ranjit Katiyal, played by Akshay Kumar, is based on two men who helped pull off the largest civil evacuation ever. It took 488 Air India and Indian Airlines flights more than 59 days to get every one of those Indians home. The scale of this operation is overwhelming, and Airlift keeps it real – well, as real as it can get in an Akshay Kumar film with songs thrown in and the obligatory hand-to-hand fight sequence. The cinematography is gritty and there’s a sense of tension conveyed in the scenes where the Iraqi soldiers go on a rampage, tearing Kuwait and its people apart. Menon and his writers fashion a taut thriller, but post-intermission the screenplay drags, and there’s an urgency that’s missing in the climax – something that Argo, with a similar theme, successfully achieved.
 
When the film begins on August 1, 1990, a day before Iraq’s invasion, we discover that Katiyal is a hard-nosed businessman who thinks of himself as more of a Kuwaiti than an Indian. As all hell breaks loose, he wants to leave for London with his wife (Nimrat Kaur) and young daughter. But when his loyal driver is shot dead in front of his eyes, and he finds all his employees looking towards him for answers, Katiyal discovers a heroic and humane side to him that he never knew he had. Soon all the Indians stranded in Kuwait see him as a messiah and Katiyal becomes determined to deposit them all safely to India.
 
Airlift turns the real-life story into a one-man mission, but we do see other players. There’s the committed bureaucrat in Delhi (Kumud Mishra), who works tirelessly, sifting through government procedures and pleading with ministers to get things going. Purab Kohli evokes your empathy, playing a young worker looking for his lost love amidst the chaos, while Prakash Belawadi is appropriately annoying as the cantankerous refugee who can’t stop grumbling. Filmistan’s Inaamulhaq brings a creepy, menacing presence to the character of the oily Iraqi general who speaks Hindi with a grating accent.
 
For the most part, the film feels authentic, and Nimrat Kaur blends right in. Just a wee bit awkward in the early scenes, she comes into her own by the time she must deliver a scathing monologue during a crisis of faith over her husband’s actions. But Airlift, expectedly, rests on Akshay Kumar’s shoulders, and he underplays the heroism beautifully, bringing quiet but steely resolve to the character, even delivering the stray note of humor almost conversationally. There’s almost none of his starry baggage in this performance, which easily counts amongst his best.
 
I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Airlift. The occasional speed bumps aside, there are many moments that soar. Raja Menon turns an important story into a compelling film. Don’t miss it.
 
 

Did you like this blog?*
How did you find this blog?*
What kind of articles would you like to read on the blog?*
Name:*
E-mail:*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Issac, Kelly Marie Tran, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Laura...

    BMS EditorDecember 15, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Monsoon Shootout

    Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vijay Varma, Neeraj Kabi, Geetanjali Thapa, Sreejita De Director: Amit Kumar Monsoon Shootout poses an eternal question plaguing all of us...

    BMS EditorDecember 15, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Murder On The Orient Express

    Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman,...

    BMS EditorNovember 25, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Coco

    Cast: Voices of Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Anthony Gonzalez, Alanna Ubach Director: Lee Unkrichs It’s the holiday season, and the makers of...

    BMS EditorNovember 25, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Ajji

    Cast: Sushama Deshpande, Smita Tambe, Abhishek Banerjee, Sadiya Siddiqui, Sudhir Pandey, Sharvani Suryavanshi Director: Devashish Makhija Bollywood has thrown as many as four...

    BMS EditorNovember 25, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Justice League

    Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Ciaran Hinds, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons...

    BMS EditorNovember 18, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Tumhari Sulu

    Cast: Vidya Balan, Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia, Vijay Maurya, Malishka Mendonsa Director: Suresh Triveni Delivering a knockout performance as a middle-class...

    BMS EditorNovember 18, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of A Bad Moms Christmas

    What’s more disturbing than the idea of three young moms behaving irresponsibly? Well, you’re about to find out in A Bad Moms...

    BMS EditorNovember 11, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Qarib Qarib Singlle

    Qarib Qarib Singlle, starring Irrfan Khan and Parvathy, revisits that familiar premise of a romance kindled over a road trip. To...

    BMS EditorNovember 11, 2017

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2017 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news!
Thank You For Subscribing To Us!

Now get regular updates on the latest entertainment news and style trends.

Providing you with the best of Bollywood, Hollywood, style and more.
Get the best in entertainment, while keeping yourself entertained!
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.
×
×
WordPress Popup