Two movies about the victory of human spirit.
Both true stories.
Two relatively new directors.
Above all, two very mainstream actors shouldering these ventures.
If Airlift is about doing a Schindler when crisis is looming large over the Gulf region, Neerja is about a young woman who put her life on the line to do her duty as a purser on an ill-fated Pan Am flight.
Both are about courage under fire. Akshay Kumar plays a hard-nosed business tycoon in Airlift. After Iraq invades Kuwait in 1991, people in his circle brushes off the incident believing that everything will be back to normal once the US intervenes. He gets a jolt when his driver is shot dead in front of his eyes at an Iraqi checkpoint. That moment changes his perception and attitude towards those unknown faces working under him. He rises to the situation and inadvertently becomes the reason for world’s biggest evacuation operation so far in history.
Sonam Kapoor, often lampooned and deemed an ineffective actor, does the unusual here. Her Neerja Bhanot will be remembered for a long time to come. The direction is top notch in that we are taken through her whole gamut of emotions with her flight under attack by the Libyan terrorists. You’re almost on the verge of crying in the last moments of the film. Shabana Azmi has done the mother act before, but this is a mother who is both grief stricken and trying to hope against hope, all at the same time.
So how are these movies connected? Well for once, we have two true stories that make us proud of being Indians. The tagline of Airlift goes something like ‘Our country is not so bad. We sometimes get things right despite our shortcomings…’ Neerja is a young woman who braved guns and deadly terrorist during a hijack at the Karachi Airport. These two protagonists just thought they had to do what they had to do to save lives…rather than running away from the situation for their own safety. Both of them put their life in danger and as they say, it was the triumph of human spirit at the end of it all.
Sachin Tendulkar may have retired, but we are not bereft of heroes we can look up to!