Saturday, February 20, 2016

Review of Neerja

Image Courtesy

Cast: Sonam Kapoor (Neerja Bhanot), Shabana Azmi (Rama Bhanot), Shekhar (Jaideep), Yogendra Tiku (Harish  Bhanot)
Directed by: Ram Madhvani
Produced by: Atul Kasbekar, Shanti Sivaram Maini, Bling Unplugged, Fox Star Studios
Written by: Sajwan Quadras, Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh
Screenplay by: Sajwyn Quadras
Music by: Vishal Khurana
Cinematography: Mitesh Mirchandani
Edited by: Monisha R Baldawa
Production Company: Fox Star Studios
Distributed by: Fox Star Studios
Release date: 19th February, 2016
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 2 minutes

Neerja, is a film by Ram Madhvani, which is based on the real hijacking incident of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan in 1986. The film is based on incredible presence of mind and bravery shown by a 23 year old air hostess Neerja Bhanot, who became instrumental in saving almost 359 lives out of 379 lives on board. Such films which are based on real stories are beyond any review. The only thing which becomes important is whether titular character’s life and the incident have been justified in the film or not. Ram Madhvani has nailed it. The film Neerja sticks to the core, and the events unfold naturally, gradually. Neerja, the titular character, is shown to be a very normal girl, who evolves during a crisis situation and puts her head and heart in place. The story telling is done in such a manner that it would indeed touch your heart. One would also feel proud of the fact that an Indian girl grew beyond her own limitations and displayed extraordinary courage during crisis time. Neerja Bhanot is the youngest Indian to be awarded the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest honour for courage.  

Neerja Bhanot : Image Courtesy link

Background of the film is that a Pan Am Mumbai-Frankfurt-New York flight was hijacked on 5th September, 1986. This flight landed at Karachi prior to proceeding to Frankfurt, and that is where it was hijacked by four armed Palestinian terrorists of Abu Nidal Organization. Militants were planning to use the hijacked plane to pick up Palestinian prisoners in Cyprus and Israel. A survivor has also claimed that he had heard the hijackers intending to crash the plane into a target in Israel. This film Neerja is based on this hijacking incident.

Neerja (Sonam Kapoor), a die-hard Rajesh Khanna fan, is shown to be a fun-loving person, who spreads energy wherever she is. Initial frames show her sprouting Rajesh Khanna’s dialogue : जिन्दगी बड़ी होनी चाहिए, लम्बी नहीं . Neerja is an airhostess as well as a model. She had just done an assignment for bridal wear. She reaches her society gathering, where her family (parents – Yogendra Tiku and Shabana Azmi playing Harish and Rama Bhanot, and two brothers) are all waiting for her so as to make the boring party lively. And that is what exactly she does, peps up the whole atmosphere.

The next day she had to fly by Pan Am 73. It was her first trip as Head Purser. She was very fond of her job. Beautiful mother-daughter moments are shown before her departure. Rama tells Neerja also that her blood pressure shoots up whenever she goes for her duty and it comes down only when her flight lands. Rama is shown as typical mother, who gets worries for her child. She even worries, when Neerja misplaced her ring suggested by an astrologer. These small details make the movie even deeper.

Shekhar plays the role of Jaideep, who is smitten by Neerja, comes to drop Neerja to the airport. Shekhar gifts her a small pack as her birthday gift, asking her to open the same only on her birthday on 7th September, 1986.

Initial frames also shows the Palestinian terrorists’ preparation.
As a head purser, Neerja ensured whether things are in order or not in flight. Neerja is shown to be lovingly interacting with the passengers. Little did the passengers know that a crisis was awaiting them?

The flight landed at Karachi, where it was hijacked. Having taken a training to handle the hijack crisis, Neerja’s brain worked and she alerted the captain and his team at cockpit which made them leave the cockpit through an overhead hatch. Neerja’s thought behind alerting the captain and his team was to save them and also was sure that aircraft could not be forcibly flown. Neerja as a head purser handles the situation.

Neerja’s marital discord and her divorce with Naresh (in Doha) is also shown interspersed with the hijack events.

The film further shows the ordeal faced by the passengers and crew. How the events shape up? How did the terrorists treat passengers and the crew? How did Neerja save the lives? Was she able to maintain her cool in midst of this crisis? Was she able to negotiate with the terrorists and also simultaneously keep the passengers calm? What gift Shekhar had given Neerja? Watch the film for Neerja, the braveheart.

Sonam Kapoor is good as Neerja. Shabana Azmi’s motherly affection would win your hearts. Rest of the cast has also done a good job.   

Certain scenes are extremely emotional: Roma and Harish’s conversation after the highjack, wishing her daughter to be safe but not able to console each other. The last scene where Roma shares her grief, pain, pride of being Neerja’s mother.

Watch Neerja, an excellent film, which would leave you in tears for the kind of human spirits displayed by the braveheart. She made Rajesh Khanna starrer Anand film’s dialogue her own life’s philosophy: जिन्दगी बड़ी होनी चाहिए, लम्बी नहीं . She lived a great life. Grand Salute to Neerja.     

Rating : 4 / 5 (Very Good)