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When Iraq invades Kuwait in August, 1990, a callous Indian businessman becomes the spokesperson for more than 170,000 stranded countrymen.

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Airlift movie full length review - Breezy pace,good supporting cast and a very good watch!

'Airlift' is a movie based on true incidents that occurred in 1990,in Kuwait.

The initial scenes reveal the influence & lavishness of the protagonist,Ranjit Katiyal(played by Akshay Kumar): A businessman who is a negotiator to the core,keeps friendship away from business,enjoys his life & who hates to be called an 'Indian'(brought out quiet early in the movie,in an exchange with his driver) Ranjit is married to Amrita(played by Nimrat Kaur),and has a young daughter.Life takes a turn for the worse,as one of Kuwait's army camps is bombarded.This scene is important,since the army men staying in the place are casual..the same feeling the residents of Kuwait have: Yes,there are differences with Iraq,but nothing will happen(ever?) Ranjit is informed late at night about Iraq's bombing & doesn't want to believe it.He has a tense exchange with Amrita & tries to contact his friends,acquaintances to validate the information.Once its confirmed,all he wants is,to get out of Kuwait with his family,as soon as possible.En route to the Kuwait embassy,some young Iraqi soldiers surround their cars & force the driver out.The driver is killed point blank.It is here that Ranjit starts introspection.Little by little,he realises: His faith in the Kuwait government was unfounded,strength lies in unity,there is pride in being true to your roots,he will not defy the trust of his employess and run away(like the Kuwait gov.) Thus,the movie takes off as a big evacuation story.But it is as much the story of redemption of an individual,one who leaves no stone unturned for his countrymen.Akshay Kumar plays a strong role with aplomb.He shows tremendous growth as an actor.

Supporting cast: One of the high points of the movie,is the strong supporting cast.Amrita,the wife,starts out as a stereotypical 'elite' but evolves well through the movie.After initial hiccups,her respect for her husband grows with every passing day.Most notably brought out in a verbal exchange with George(more on him later) Though Nimrat has few lines,she does her bit well.Next we have Ibrahim(Purab Kohli),a young newly married employee of Ranjit's company.He is resourceful & does his bit to save Tasneem,the 'Kuwaiti girl'(Feryna Wazheir) His days pass with longing for his wife,who has been missing since just a few days after their marriage.Purab Kohli displays good restraint as Ibrahim.The final scenes show his redemption.Feryna looks her part,though her dialogues are minimal.The other pivotal character is Mr. Kohli(Kumud Mishra) who does a fine job as the Joint Secretary.His first appearance brings out the bureaucracy in the Indian embassy.However,he quickly realises that he is an important mediator & a small chat with his father,awakes the Indian in him.He has a good role & I hope to see him more often.George,played superbly by Prakash Belawadi,is an irritable & irritating character who keeps nagging his wife(& almost everyone around) Never smiling,he is a treat to watch as the ever complaining old man.Major Khalaf Bin Zayd is the most visible chief antagonist.Inaamul Haq is superb in his part as a terrifying,yet somewhat friendly villain.His mannerisms & accent are praiseworthy,as he seeks to always have the upper hand in his conversations with Ranjit.Other characters include the typical Indian minister,who is the first to take credit once the evacuation is successful; a hysterical father who vacates his daughter & leaves the 'Indian camp';the endless Iraq soldiers who revel in holding the guns & feeling powerful by looting/firing at people/shops/homes; the bureaucratic guys who always have a reason to 'pass' the job;Ranjit's friends who,led by him,turn 'Indian' from 'Kuwaiti'.

The movie has small doses of humour/dark humour: what Ranjit,the Kuwaiti,rejects as 'Indian',is embraced by the Iraqi men who dance to the tunes of the same song;the ambassador at Baghdad,who mentions Sachin Tendulkar as a 'poor selection' in the cricket team;the Iraqi biscuit;Ranjit duping the Major & so on.

What the director does well,is to show the screenplay as it is.Never does the movie try to bask in the glory of its subject,never does it stop to glorify Ranjit,never does it stop for song & dance,never does it drag,never does it try to manipulate the audience by towing on the 'Indian' line.The hoisting of the flag towards the end serves to take the story forward & doesn't exploit the audience's patriotism.For a Bollywood movie & for its strong subject matter,it is unusually un-dramatic & unusually short(at 125 mins.,this is still a fast paced movie) As a movie lover,I feel happy that actors like Akshay Kumar are willing to be a part of such movies.I feel happy that Bollywood is finally coming of age & not relying on songs & emotional manipulation to get audiences.Such movies need to be embraced as a step forward.

A big thumbs up to Raja Krishna Menon & the team of superb writers.Go watch this one.

Verdict: (A partially generous) 10/10