26 January 2016

'Airlift': A Review

Raja Krishna Menon delivers something almost unheard of in Bollywood: a realistic drama and a gripping thriller. Right at the start you realise this is not just another Bollywood movie – whether it is the impressive scenes of a Kuwait City ravaged by the invading Iraqi army (2 Aug 1990) or the grim depiction of the fear and unpredictability of a war-zone. This is not a boy-meets-girl movie.

The saga of evacuating the 1.7 lakh Indians in Kuwait is portrayed with all its twists and turns – including (of course) the infuriating slowness of India's bureaucratic machinery, whose wheels grind at a snail's pace. The script and the direction keep getting better as the movie progresses. The actors do a competent job. They don't try to overact, but simply allow the script to do its work. Akshay Kumar gives a restrained and understated performance.

The movie is inevitably inviting comparisons with two classics of this genre: Schindler's List and Hotel Rwanda (anybody who mentions Argo here should be shot). Airlift doesn't match those masterpieces, but such comparisons show its quality. This is a remarkable achievement for Raja Krishna Menon working in the Bollywood system.

Watch Airlift. Not because it is patriotic, but because it is a good story – well written, well directed and well acted. The patriotism is just a bonus :-)

Liberals are calling the movie 'jingoistic'. Apparently, only Hollywood has the licence to make patriotic movies. Only Americans have the right to be patriotic. We Indians are supposed to be like stones.

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