It is said adversity brings out the true character of a person. If this adage is true, HS Vedi, Sunny Mathews and all other people who Akshay Kumar’s Ranjit Katyal is an amalgamation of, were men of true grit. In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, many lives were shattered and livelihoods were lost.
One such character in the film is Ranjit Katyal, a very successful Indian businessman whose sole motivation is profit. He lives a luxurious lifestyle with his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and a cute little daughter Simu (Abida Hussain)
Ranjit’s world is turned upside down one evening when Kuwait is invaded by Iraq. People in Kuwait are at the mercy of Iraqi soldiers who enter homes, kill, loot and plunder. Katyal is initially in denial, rationalizing that the invasion would be a short disruption. Once he realizes the seriousness of the situation, his immediate reaction is to try to get his family and himself out of Kuwait. His sense of duty, however, prevents him from abandoning his employees and making his own getaway. What starts off as Ranjit trying to get his employees out of the country safely, soon balloons to helping an estimated 1.7 lakh Indians get out of Kuwait. Amrita, who is initially only concerned about her family’s welfare soon realizes the goodness in her husband’s heart and supports him in the endeavour. How Ranjit’s efforts get the wheels moving, especially among the Indian bureaucracy, and how the biggest civilian evacuation in aviation history was carried out forms the crux of the story.
The film is made with sincerity. The tension of potential danger is palpable throughout the film. Attention is given to details while recreating Kuwait- it looks and feels hot and dusty as a Middle Eastern country would be.
Akshay Kumar is the mainstay of the film. He gives a superb restrained performance; letting the story be the agent to propel the film further. It is fascinating to note his body language when he meets Iraqi Major Khalaf (Inaamulhaq) for the first time – he is almost servile but later, when he realizes that the Major wants to make money, he is more like an equal and finally even threatens to call the Iraqi Foreign Minister on him if the Major came in his way. Other supporting cast is good, and performs well. Songs seem out of place in the misery surrounding the refugees.
Certain scenes tug at the heart, like the unfurling of the Indian Tricolour in Jordan or the way Kumud Mishra’s bureaucrat pleads with the reluctant Air India Pilots to carry out the evacuation. Airlift lifts the audience spirit.
Airlift Poster – By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48584490
Rating : 4/5
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Inaamulhaq, Purab Kohli, Prakash Belawadi, Kumud Mishra
Director: Raja Krishna Menon