Airlift is a terrifying account of 170,000 Indians stranded in a foreign land (Kuwait) which turns into a war zone overnight. The Kuwaiti royalty (govt) flees minutes before Iraq attacks, leaving its country homeless and bankrupt. The film tells the story of one of history's largest civilian evacuations, through the eyes of influential businessman Ranjeet Katiyal (Akshay Kumar), who is initially reluctant but eventually takes it upon himself to rescue his family and fellow Indians out of the country.
Picture the horror of waking to explosions in the middle of the night. Explosions right outside your house. The mere thought chills me to the bone. The scene, with tanks attacking and tearing through Kuwait in the dark of the night, is spectacularly done. It rouses fear and every emotion associated with it, setting you up for what's to come. Every bit of what follows makes you watch in unblinking attention. Airlift is slickly paced and executed and brilliantly performed.
I had never been a Akshay Kumar fan but it took a bit to take my gaze off him the first time I saw him at the premiere of Brothers last year. In a bandana and salt-and-pepper stubble, he looked dapper and half his age. And in Airlift, he is not only a treat to look at but wows with a praiseworthy act. This certainly stands out as one of his better performances thus far. He is strongly supported by Nimrat Kaur who herself is a natural, effortless performer. Hard to believe it's the same woman from Lunchbox! Purab Kohli manages to evoke sympathy in our hearts in a restrained performance, despite a brief presence and minimal dialogues.
What I particularly liked about Airlift is it deals with the subject very sensitively. Instead of beefing it up with overacted, hammy dialogues which it could have fallen prey to, given the theme at hand, the film is not loud and in your face. Despite being a commercial vehicle, with a mega star leading it, it subverts convention in its treatment.
Every composition is melodious, with a listenable quality, particularly Arijit's teri liye duniya chod di. But mera nachan nu is forcefully and annoyingly squeezed into the narrative. It felt so out of beat in a film like this.
Have you seen Airlift? What did you think of it? For those of you who haven't, don't miss it!