It is amazing that instead of appreciating the efforts of the makers of ‘Airlift’ to turn ordinary men into heroes, a section of people have started criticizing the film for being weak on research.
The film is about a real time incident when the Air India and Indian Airlines conducted more than 400 sorties to evacuate around 1,70,000 Indians stranded in Kuwait after an invasion by the forces of Saddam Hussain.
The film shows how a reluctant and slow moving Indian bureaucracy got its act together to rescue people who were not related to them, for which they were not going to get any recognition anywhere.
The way the fulcrum of this massive exercise one Mr.Kohli gets involved in this act and keeps a low-profile till the end and allows the minister to hog the lime-light and places him on a pedestal which is even higher than the hero.
And yet we find some journalists interviewing the real Sanjeev Kohli who makes it a point to emphasize that the truth is quite different,that the staff of the embassy had not quit and had worked day and night from a make shift arrangement to see the last Indian out.
But I feel these protests are not needed.First, it is a film and writers have the license to take some liberties to make the story attractive for viewers.
Secondly, we know our babudom too well because each of us has had our brush with them be it it a bank,an MTNL office,a university or any public utility service.They all behave the way the staff of the MEA behaves-never picking up the phone when they are about to go for lunch. Or even in normal times.
Remember the famous serial ‘Office Office’ which was later turned into a film where each episode reflects the way our public service providers function.
Anyway, back to the film.
‘Airlift’ is a lifting film with a novel turn. It has a hero who is a very ordinary person who only acts as a catalyst in a heroic effort which will go down as the biggest evacuation act in the history of mankind while the ordinary people steal the show.
By Amitabh Srivastava