WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Loyalty to your home country. Sounds like an easy enough concept to maintain when one appreciates the place in this world that birthed them. But what if circumstances had clouded your judgement, success in business had tainted your view of life and said loyalty, and that it took a sobering and tumultuous situation to awaken you from the haze you were in? It is August 1990, and businessman Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is enjoying the high life in his new home of Kuwait City. Making his deals with a Prince (Sameer Ali Kahn) and being distant from his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and daughter, Ranjit even considers himself a Kuwaiti, no longer truly acknowledging his Indian heritage, and is intoxicated by status.
In a sudden, violence-filled change of conditions, Iraqi forces invade and overrun Kuwait City via one devastating attack, striking out especially at the Kuwaiti citizens, killing any and all they can locate. Initially only concerned about his and his family’s own well-being after experiencing a personal tragedy which unfolds before his eyes at a checkpoint, Ranjit ultimately attempts to initiate a deal with Kuwait’s new de facto leader, Major Khalaf (Inaamulhaq), to allow them out of the country. But as this plan is put in place, Ranjit undergoes a radical change of heart for the Indian people trapped in country, and then becomes an advocate for them all.
Using his wealth and what’s left of his influence to try and reach the right people, Ranjit faces huge obstacles in arranging a daring and astoundingly difficult rescue mission to save the Indian people he once again calls his own.
Next, my Mind:
While the characters themselves, along with certain circumstances presented, are fictionalized for the sake of the film, make no mistake that the presentation of events that occurred in Kuwait City, August 1990 nor the actions of the amazing men who initiated what is arguably one of the largest evacuation efforts in world history, is diminished in any way. Director Raja Menon delivers a fast-paced, yet potently dramatic and heartfelt picture of how one man’s decision to turn his own personal wealth and influence into a means to save over 170,000 Indians was executed and it is truly inspirational. The cinematography here is excellent, with realistic and effective visuals, rushing the viewer first into the excessive life of a businessman, then into a world turned upside-down by the horror of war and the plight of the Indian people, whom Ranjit re-identifies with in their time of desperate need.
Kumar is fantastic as Ranjit, truly bringing a sense of hard-nosed, determined realism to the character, as you first want to see him falter in the face of his own callousness, but then more than root for him as the hero when his realization comes that there are far more important things than success to be loyal to. Kumar very successfully gives us that dichotomy in his portrayal. Likewise, Kaur brings us a deep sense of realistic delivery in her role as Amrita, a long-suffering but dedicated wife, who’s own personal sense of what her husband chooses to do is met with resistance at the outset, but then grows to not only support, but a deeper appreciation and love for him. Inaamulhaq’s Major Khalaf is one of those villains you love to hate, and the actor more than plays up the character’s pompous and infuriating attitude with full effect. A supporting cast of thousands literally helps put the true scope of this rescue endeavor into perspective, and the hardships portrayed that they face are simply impacting.
Overall, “Airlift” is yet another Bollywood hit for this reviewer and proof positive that the unique execution and disposition of these films offers something fresh and vibrant in an often cliché-filled world of film.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!