Almost a month into 2016 & Bollywood already had a big release in "Wazir" which bit the dust for obvious reasons. However, one of the movies that I was most eagerly looking forward to this year was Akshay's "Airlift" which hit the screens yesterday. Based on the evacuation of about 1.7 lakh Indians who were stranded in Kuwait during the Gulf War, it made sense to release it just days before our 67th Republic Day. More often than not, real life events have been portrayed dismally on celluloid as the makers tends to inject an over-dosage of heroism & patriotism. So did Raja Menon repeat the same mistake???
The film unfolds a day prior to the Iraqi invasion with Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar) shown as a wealthy Indian business magnate who has significant influence over the Kuwait royal clan. However, all hell breaks loose when Saddam takes over Kuwait & all the expatriates are stranded as the embassies gets locked down. Even though Ranjit manages to secure a safe passage for his family out of the country for a hefty sum, the predicament of his less fortunate Indian brethren makes him to think about them as well. What subsequently follows is Ranjit's efforts to somehow get the expatriates back to India against all odds.
It might sound surprising but it seems Raja Menon's directorial debut "Bas Yun Hi" happened more than a decade back & this is in fact his third venture. As mentioned earlier, the inspiration for this movie was the massive evacuation orchestrated by the Indian government in collaboration with Air India which actually finds a mention in the Guinness Book as well. The biggest positive is that Raja doesnt make his protagonist do super human stuff but still manages to captivate the audience with the events that unfold. But I felt the second half could have been a bit more gripping as it didnt quite have the sequences which could have given the edge of the seat experience as felt in the climax of "Argo". On the technical side, Priya Seth's visuals were praise worthy while Hemanti Sarkar's editing were adequate. As for the music, Ankit Tiwari has done a reasonable job though at times it hindered the flow of the movie.
In the past few years, Akshay has come out with movies which was inspired from real life events be it "Special 26" or "Baby" in both of which he had rocked. Even in his latest release, he was brilliant as the protagonist who exhibits a range of emotions with elan from being the flamboyant profit seeking businessman to the reluctant leader of the expatriates & he is surely the heart and soul of the movie. After "Lunchbox", Nimrat Kaur is in mainstream cinema for a change & have done a reasonably decent job though the idea of being quite decked up with ample make-up in such harrowing situations didn't make sense. However, the sequence where she stands up for her husband & delivers a smashing dialogue was awesome. As for the rest of the cast, Kumud Mishra was impressive, Prakash Belawadi as the irritating Georgekutty was bang on while Purab Kohli, Inaamulhaq, Lena etc all needs to be commended on a job well done.
Verdict: In all probability, the film should rack in pretty good numbers as the word of mouth will definitely work in its favour. But knowing the general response of the Bollywood audience, it wont make as much noise at the box office as the mindless masala movies. Anywaz it truly deserves eyeballs & I would suggest that all of you guys to definitely check it out!!!