An Akshay Kumar film without action,stunts or comedy is unthinkable.But ‘ Airlift’ released barely days before the Republic Day has a mesmerizing effect on viewers who are swarming to the theatres to watch it.
Based on the real time story when one and a half lakh Indians were stranded in Kuwait and had to be airlifted, one would have expected the hero to play a hero’s role in this action thriller.
But the hero of the film is not a super hero.He does not indulge in car chases, is not a pilot and yet it is a heroic film which asks the ultimate question, ‘Before asking what the country has done for you, think about what you have done for the country.’
Come to think of it. ‘Airlift’ is not even a patriotic or a nationalistic film in the true sense of the word.But how the concern of one man to get out of a desperate situation transforms into an obsession to rescue every Indian stranded in the country, is a marvellous bit of story telling.
The one enduring quality of this hero is that he never gives up trying,however desperate the situation.Being a businessman he thinks that money can open all gates and in most cases it does.But his slow transformation into a caring and concerned employee who wants to take the responsibility of all his employees is so casual that one fails to notice when this happened.
And even more surprising is the change that comes over his wife portrayed so lovingly by Nimrat Kaur, who gives another scintillating performance after ‘Lunch-box’.
A normal housewife who has been telling her husband to mind his own business instead of playing the ‘messiah’ for everyone bursts out with her emotions when she shouts at a man who has been trying to find fault with everything that Akshay has been doing to get them evacuated.
The film is full of a number of such nuggets which together make it a memorable movie. There is Mr.Kohli, a typical government employee, sitting in a typical sarkari office of the Ministry of External Affairs whom Akshay tries to contact to help them out. A man who refuses to pick up the phone during his lunch time ultimately persuades the minister to intervene in the matter and rescue people whom he hardly knows.
But probably the best story is that of the man whose wife was one of the hundreds of women who had gone misusing after Saddam let loose his soldiers on Kuwait. By the end of the film he falls in love with a Kuwaiti woman with a child and accepts her as his wife to protect her from being deported.
This simple story itself could have been developed into a full-length love story. But that this cameo performance has been stitched into a film that becomes an example of the heroics of a group of people is a tribute to the makers of the film directed by Raja Krishna Menon.
A must watch for lovers of good cinema who would love to see Akhay Kumay play his age with gusto.
By Amitabh Srivastava