Akshay Kumar’s first release of each of the last three years – Special 26, Holiday, Baby – turned out to be one of the best movies of that particular year. Will Akki’s first release of 2016, Airlift, reach upto those standards? Here’s five factors to consider.
1. Akshay himself : The only star to rival the Khan dominance over Bollywood, Akshay comes up with a restrained 5/5 performance. From the time he gets news of war breaking out, you start feeling for Ranjit Katyal, the character. He peaks in the scene, breaking down in front of his wife, after having seen his own driver shot at point blank range. Akshay is top draw, reason enough to book your ticket, as he effortlessly carries Airlift.
2. Support cast: Nimrat Kaur, the ‘Lunchbox’ lady has limited screen presence but enough to to make strong impact. Her arguments and dislike for Ranjit’s lifestyle and the sudden change of conscience are very believable. Do watch the way she struts around. Add the other characters – the irritating aged Indian stuck, the desperate external affairs ministry staff or Purab Kohli – and each play their parts well.
3. A story which had to be told: Kudos to ‘Mathews & Vedi’ aided by Air India – the real life heroes, who in 1990, managed the largest war evacuation in history. Just a Guiness book of records mention didn’t do justice, this was a story which had to hit big screen. And show to social media ranters who think India must go to war with Pakistan! Sorry. You need to see Airlift to understand how war in your city can turn lives upside down disastrously. You won’t demand war again.
4. Brilliant war depiction: Director Raja Krishna Menon, for some strange reason, appears only once in six years to direct a movie. Airlift is easily his best. For superlative army siege scenes, the cinematography and the nitty gritties – teen illiterate soldiers, who don’t understand what a phone or a teddy bear is (back in 1990), but armed with a gun are in chilling shooting sprees.
5. Strength of story papers the cracks: Airlift has its share of flaws. Whether it’s the funny accent of the Iraqi general; the local version of Khaled’s famous song Didi (released in 1991, but shown played here in 1990); or showing all Ranjit Katyal’s staff reporting to work next day despite war breaking in middle of night; or Mrs Katyal’s prim and proper make up face despite refugee like status; or the abrupt first few songs. However, the bloopers don’t sour the experience as the movie starts and ends well, performances hold forte and honesty behind story and Akshay’s character, keeps you rooted.
As an NRI I felt ashamed that the day I landed overseas and started looking down upon my country of origin, at times.
Rating : 4/5 (Averaged with friends)
Box Office Prediction: Singapore first show, on a weekend night, was housefull. There were some insensitive audiences giggling amidst war scenes, but at the end, entire hall clapped. Akshay’s star power will get crowds back home; and the patriotism awakening concept will ensure good collections overseas. Airlift, at 30cr budget, should be the first big 100 crores hit of 2016.