06 March 2016

'Neerja': Review

5 Sep 1986 - Pan Am Flight 73 from Bombay to New York halts at Karachi. Four Palestinian terrorists seize the plane to hijack it. Their plan goes awry and they decide to kill all the people on board. Air hostess Neerja Bhanot saves 360 out of the 380 people on the flight - sacrificing her own life in the process. She was honoured with the Ashok Chakra (the highest peacetime gallantry award).

Director Ram Madhvani and scriptwriter Saiwyn Quadras don't put a foot wrong in telling the story - both as a taut thriller and an emotional drama. Sonam Kapoor gets to act for the first time in her career and delivers a controlled performance. Shabana Azmi hits the ball out of the stadium with her portrayal of Neerja's mother (as expected). Yogendra Tiku is also solid as Neerja's father.

Survival is the most fundamental instinct of any human. We all do our duty - but not at the cost of our life. Neerja Bhanot was a 22-year-old girl who had her whole life ahead of her. Two days before her 23rd birthday, she put her duty above her life. In doing so, she rose above ordinary and became extraordinary. She rose above good and became great.

In a telling moment, Neerja says "Main marne se pehle marna nahin chaahti". Haan Neerja-ji, bahut log marne se pehle hi mar jaate hain. Lekin aap marne ke baad bhi nahin mare. Aap amar hain. Pranaam, Neerja . . .

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