Direction: Raja Menon
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Kumud Mishra, Purab Kohli and Inaamulhaq
Indian businessman in Kuwait, Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) returns home one evening to party out with wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur). A happy evening with friends follow – loudly flows the wine, and Katyal even attempts a belly dance!
Cut to scene two, and that glib, happy veneer is shattered by explosions marking the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. And with that contrast, ‘Airlift’ takes off on a gritty journey to portray India’s largest evacuation of its citizens from Kuwait (all 1,70,000 of them) and particularly Katyal’s role in it.
The narrative seamlessly accommodated layers of emotion as they blended with personal stories. Scriptwriters Suresh Nair, Rahul Nangia, Ritesh Shah and director Menon had researched the real behind the reel, and the entire length of Saddam Hussain's invasion of the gulf country.
'Airlift' is well shot, particularly the ones taken on air. Cinematographer Priya Seth has also done well capturing the Middle Eastern ethos.
Akshay's character provides a wall of support to not only his professional family but also to all Indians who were to be evacuated. Did he neglect his own family? But the call of duty to the country was greater.
Akshay Kumar has definitely pushed the envelope with his last two outings. The raw and gritty action of this film, the fear and tension on Akshay Kumar’s face when he is unable to execute the escape initially, is terrific. It's difficult to take one's eyes off Akshay Kumar and he makes one's heart swell with pride.
Nimrat Kaur is in character as a doting mother and the protective wife. The chemistry between her and Akshay in the film crackles. Purab Kohli and Kumud Mishra deserve a special mention. But actor Inaamulhaq's Arab accent as an Iraqi major -- the main antagonist -- is irritating.
The background music of the film is beautifully woven into the screenplay. Music director Arijit Datta deserves a special mention for keeping the music relevant to a war drama. You can also hear the sound of the punches.
Coming to the glitches, one couldn't understand when Akshay Kumar, who doesn't approve of Hindi music, is seen shaking a leg on a song in the opening sequence of the film. The first half of the film moves smoothly but the hasty evacuation towards the end makes the story lose grip.
This was a story waiting to be told, and it has been.