Airlift is based on the evacuation of 170,000 people from Kuwait to India during the invasions of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi soldiers in 1990. This event has been noted down to be the biggest evacuation ever done by flight in the Guinness World Book of Records and STILL people barely know anything about this incident. I mean, just Google “biggest evacuation that took place by flight” and see the first thing for yourself.
Ranjit Katyal, character entirely based on the two who lead the evacuation, is a stable and strong business man who prides himself of being a Kuwaiti. He undermines Indians at the start of the film as he talks to his dear driver, Nair. However, that night, he hears the news that Iraq has attacked Kuwait and soon realises that the soldiers coming to invade are only targeting Kuwaitis. He is given numerous opportunities to escape with his daughter Simmu and wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) but his respect for his workers means that he only wants to leave once he has made some sort of arrangements for them. From then on, you will see how he makes his arrangements and how he manages to carry out this evacuation of 170,000 people after many betrayals and unsuccessful attempts. Don’t be disappointed as I have barely given any spoilers to this film. There is so much more in this film for you to personally unravel and experience yourself so make sure you watch it (after you read my review ;)).
Have a look at the trailer:
The dialogue at the end is so true!
It is also worth noting that Ranjit (Akshay Kumar) is not the only hero. There are many characters along the way who are equally as heroic as him and you will find this out when you watch the film. We need to celebrate these many heroes.
The director, Raja Krishna Menon, went down the correct route with his direction. The realistic one. Nothing about this film seemed fake or forced. I am glad he did this as it showed that he wanted to respect what happened in Kuwait and show the audience all the highs and lows of the Indians who were evacuated were in. He allowed us to see a glimpse of how ruthless and immature the soldiers were at the time and this was done to show how scary and tough the conditions were.
Akshay Kumar is brilliant in this film. He shows great disparity in the Ranjit before and after the horrible incidents that took place in Kuwait at the time. He manages to be a hero without forcing the hero image down the audience’s throat. I think the credit for that also goes to the writers and director for structuring the movie in the way they did. For example, in the scene where he fights the soldiers in the desert; he does not just beat them all up and wipe his blood and walk away. Instead, you see his weaknesses crack through his determination as he eventually drops to his knees before them. In addition to his powerful subtly heroic performance, he delivers his dialogues well and every emotion with sincerity. He is one of the most underrated actors in Bollywood and I never know why because he is excellent at his craft.
Nimrat Kaur was my least favourite out of all the cast. Her emotions were not emoted that well and there were parts where it seemed as if she was barely acting. There was only one scene where she shone as she told Mr. George to stop complaining and actually start appreciating the good things that are happening. I think she did what every audience member wanted to jump into the movie and do (but with less violence haha). Speaking of Mr. George, Prakash Belawadi played his character incredibly well. My oh my did he make the audience really hate him. It was the different personalities in the mission to get everyone out of Kuwait and back in India that made this film even more fascinating. The little stories intertwined into the bigger picture were touching and so realistic.
The entire supporting cast were fabulous. I thought that Inaamulhaq who played Major Khalaf Bin Zayd could have performed a little better at times. I think there could have been a little more work done on his accent as it did seem a little comical at times. With that said, he still managed to play a wicked character superbly well.
The music in the film was excellent! My favourites are Dil Cheez Tujhe Dedi, Soch Na Sake and Tu Bhoola Jise. Arijit singh smashes it with the first two songs I named whilst K.K makes us proud to be Indian with the last song. Tu Bhoola Jise has very meaningful lyrics and could make you teary eyed when watching the film.
The other songs which I haven’t named didn’t really stand out in the album however they do have their rightful place in the film. None of the songs are awkwardly place as I was worried when Dil Cheez Tujhe Dedi was released that some songs might have been placed just for some entertainment in the film!
I’d recommend this film to everyone. It is a great lesson on one of the most inspirational and never been spoken about incidents in history AND it has great music, great acting and is wonderfully directed. This is definitely one of my all time favourite Bollywood films and I’d give it a 5/5 rating.