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AIRLIFT - Akshay's films might not be reaching the infamous 100 crore status, but the man is rightly choosing his subjects becoming the new-age Bharat Kumar for the present generation. (Review by Bobby Sing)

23 Jan, 2016 | Movie Reviews / 2016 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / A

Hindi cinema does have its own preset formats followed since decades and it’s rarely that we get to see a film focusing on its core ‘must-tell’ subject throughout with an almost impressive execution, performances, camerawork and background score accompanied by a few avoidable (but major) hiccups. The film once again is a project with a strong patriotic feel featuring Akshay Kumar and though his last few films have not reached the infamous 100 crore status, the actor is rightly choosing his subjects and fast moving on the path of becoming the new-age Bharat Kumar (aka Manoj Kumar) for the present generation with films such as NAMASTEY LONDON (which was in fact a re-worked version of Manoj Kumar’s PURAB AUR PACHHIM), SPECIAL 26 (revealing rare scams in India), HOLIDAY, BABY, GABBAR IS BACK and now AIRLIFT.
Based on the genuinely lesser-known heroes of the past, AIRLIFT is a completely focused and a sincere effort by director Raja Krishna Menon enlightening the viewers about the time of first Gulf War, when around 1,70,000 Indians left stranded in Kuwait were safely rescued by the efforts made by a few local businessmen of Indian origin, a few government employees and diplomats here in India going out of their way compromising with the set protocol.
The rare and unbelievable kind of incident deserved to be adapted on the silver screen as a must and team AIRLIFT does the given important task pretty well with only a few preventable minuses revealed in the later part of the review, mentioning the merits first.
The film begins with a non-Hindi sequence giving you a feel of where the story is actually based and then the lead character of Akshay gets revealed as a cunning, money-minded businessman with a song "Dil Cheez Tujhe De Di', reminding you of Khaled's hit track of the early ‘90s titled DIDI. However, the relief moments get over soon within the opening 10 minutes and the narration straight away comes to its basic shocking plot without wasting any more time as required.
The director, along with his cinematographer (Priya Seth), brilliantly recreates the absurd, life-threatening and hell of a scary scenario on the streets very intelligently (with fine detailing), without going into any hugely grand scale (try to catch the sight of all wrecked shops at the back with boards like of CASIO). As a result one truly feels the fear watching military tanks moving around the houses, heavy guns in the hands of young soldiers and people being shot dead on just hearing a word said in Arabic.
Personally speaking, the well-shot and conceived transformation of life within seconds – without caring about any kind of richness one might have achieved – reminded me of a similar sequence in Yash Chopra’s WAQT where the life-changing twist is a result of devastating earthquake and not any foreign attack. The story progression remains convincing and majorly gripping till intermission despite some unrequired songs and the film keeps heading towards an expectedly uplifting climax arousing patriotic feeling among the audience that honestly could have been much more energetic and exciting giving the event a thrilling edge.
Apart from the fact that AIRLIFT largely works due to its rare, unheard-of historical event and its (said to be) authentic portrayal, the other truth remains that the film completely relies on the strong shoulders of Akshay alone and the actor underplays the heroic act well without falling back to the usual Bollywood heroism. Akshay’s first-rate performance gets decently supported by Nimrat Kaur, who could have done much better underplaying it too, because at times it does make you feel awkward watching her calmly living in her big house overlooking the gravely dangerous situation in the country they are living in. The supporting cast has some effective portrayals from Purab Kohli, Kumud Mishra, Feryna Wazheir and above all Prakash Belawadi who successfully annoys the viewers too along with Akshay and others on screen.
Coming to the hiccups in AIRLIFT, which unfortunately don’t let you rate the film as any classic exemplary attempt making a major breakthrough, firstly it’s the usual inclusion of love songs (with another inspired one from a Punjabi hit number ‘Soch’) coming at a time when there is tension written all over the screen with people dying. Admittedly post the first acceptable party track, the moment a melody begins, you feel like why they are adding songs in such a finely progressing movie based on a serious subject? Thankfully the tracks are kept short for just 1-2 minutes of duration but it seems they were probably all there against the will of their captain of the ship having a clear vision. (Moreover its indeed strange to hear Akshay singing Hindi songs when he himself declares in the beginning that he doesn’t like Indian music anymore.)
The second drawback in the film for me was the casting of Inaamulhaq as the Iraqi general speaking with a funny accent. No doubt Inaamulhaq is a fine actor who tried his best to deliver the expected result in the assigned job. But as I felt, another terrifying face in that particular role could have resulted in much more scary impact in those important sequences with Akshay avoiding all the unintentional comic touches. (Here, I also felt weird watching Akshay enjoying a tandoori chicken in his house when everyone else in the town was not even having a complete one-time meal. Maybe I am alone here but I felt this was quite contradicting to his otherwise ‘emotional character-change’ in those crucial times.)
As the third and most important hiccup of the film, its climax lacked that expected exaggeration or cinematic tension that should have been there depicting probably the biggest civil evacuation in the world history. The detailing was completely missing as it actually had more than 450 planes airlifting the 1,70,000 people from the region, that took around one to two months as reported. Besides, the emphasis entirely remains on talks and requests made on humanitarian ground, without any kind of exciting cinematic moments bringing the viewer on to the edge of his seat as seen in similar attempts in the west like in ARGO.
Talking about the political involvement and will showcased in the film as per the real life happenings, AIRLIFT actually doesn’t make you feel proud for the government or political leaders of those times not taking any instant timely action as desired.  On the contrary, it makes you feel proud for those few government employees and concerned officials who in reality made it possible through their personal efforts fighting against all the usual political drama and time-lags.
Ending the review on another bitter truth, the film has a scene where an Iraqi soldier gets hold of a young Indian girl passing through him, pushes her towards the wall and starts rubbing her indicatively from the back. The minute it started happening on the screen, I heard sick laughs, shouts and whistles in the single-screen theater I was watching the film in. A clear indicator that we are still not civilized enough in the minds and there are many serious possible offenders around us, who can easily turn into DEVILS when the opportunity arises.
So thinking about this scary truth, do watch AIRLIFT as a good film inspiring us all to be together as INDIANS irrespective of any caste, colour or region. But don’t expect anything as exciting and effective as ARGO, HOTEL RWANDA or SCHINDLER’s LIST.
Rating : 3 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for making the courageous move of adapting the ‘must-tell, lesser known’ historical event for a Hindi film)
(NOTE : As an interesting revelation, the very existence of any such person or persons in Kuwait is also denied and its said that the evacuation was actually facilitated by the governments only. However the review is as per how it is depicted in the film.)

Tags : AIRLIFT Movie Review by Bobby Sing, Airlift Film Review by Bobby Sing, Inspired Movies from Real Life Events, Inspired Soundtrack, Copied Music. Reworked songs, Punjabi song adapted in Hindi Film Song, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com
23 Jan 2016 / Comment ( 2 )
Varun Neermul

Hi Bobby!
After reading your review of Tamasha and you talked about the enlightening theme you made me seek the movie out. And I was overcome with emotions, that i decided to take a walk outside and just watching everything around me. It is not often i have felt this impact and i was wondering if you could recommend any other movies that have given you this impact because this is a feeling i would like to feel again.

I have only felt this way when watching Five Easy Pieces (My favorite movie), Sideways, Adaptation, Wake Up Sid, Alll Things Fair, Under The Sun, Scenes From A Marriage, Finding Fanny, Swades, Kabhi Kabhi Naan, Dil Se, Dil Toh Bacha Hai Ji, Rang De Basanti, 1947 Earth, Raven\'s End.

Sorry for writing such a long comment hahahaha

Regards, Varun

Bobby Sing

Hi Varun,
Great to hear that you felt that rare enlightening moment too post watching TAMASHA joining the many like minded friends here.
I keep writing about such movies in my 'Movies To See Before You Die' section at the site. (Right side column - Top Section) 

But films like TAMASHA having a spiritual healing touch are certainly rare and precious.

Regarding suggesting similar films, presently I have two in mind for you,
One is SHIP OF THESEUS (English-Hindi)
and second is ANKHON DEKHI

Watch these both at the earliest and let me know your views too.
The reviews of these movies can be found through the SEARCH option given in the right hand column above the Disclaimer.
(Just put one exclusive word in the search box and click go. For example, write just Ankhon or Theseus and Search for it.)

Have a great time watching these gems.

Keep Visiting and Writing in,

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