Thursday 28 January 2016

Airlift: Argo without the impact

"Airlift: Schindler without the evolution, Argo without the impact."


The line- "largest evacuation in the history of the world" has a certain aura to it which grips the audiences. But you don't feel the thrill. Things move before you can care for them and the frames are rushed. Airlift is one of those films for which you care more about what they could have been instead of what they actually are.

The year is 1990 and the setting is Kuwaiti. We begin with Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), an Indian  a Kuwaitian businessman who despises India. He has a wife in Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and a daughter. They enjoy their lavish lifestyle in Kuwait, absolutely adore the Kuwaitian Dinar and make merry. Then strikes calamity. Iraq attacks Kuwait and takes siege. All hell breaks loose and the 1.75 lakh Indians (not to mention the even more Kuwaitians) are left at the mercy of Saddam Husseins troops.

And then something tremendous happens.  Ranjit Katyal,  the gritty, rugged businessman he is,  within a matter of frames becomes a Schindler, a messiah to his 'Indian' people. "When did you become an Indian Ranjit?", asks his friend. But he doesn't have an answer and nor does the film. His wife calls it a 'manufacturing defect' of breaking down in the face of adversity. As such, Akshay's character needed a lot more development. But we move on from that towards the better parts of the film because far as Akshay is concerned, we do not give a damn. And that is actually the best part of the film. In a movie like that, you tend to make your messiah extremely charismatic and larger than life but barring one or two places, he is a normal man, part of the crowd. How those 'Indians' find their way home is then the second-best part.

There are places where Director Raja Menon has worked to his optimum best. The way he handles bureaucratic and political situations is smooth and in spite of a few ups and downs, succeeds in making the audiences proud of what the county could achieve. Also, applause goes to the production design for making the film look convincing visually at a budget of 30 crore rupees.

There are few scenes that you love in the movie and those that you actually talk about when you come out. A peculiar one is where an embassy guy remarks how some particular kid in Indian cricket team isn't worth his spot and goes on to blame the selectors. Little did he know this boy would become the Sachin Tendulkar as we know him. Another good scene is towards the end when the Indian flag hoists in the air and you actually feel proud because it has a plot significance to it and not just a forced sense of patriotism.

But as I said, I look at what the movie could have been. It shares a base with Argo, even a greater motive than that, but still cannot produce that impact with the actual 'Airlift' that it is titled for. When you go through the movie, you are just fine with it but do not actually develop any empathy towards the characters or people at large. This is where most of the Bollywood films fail and this is where Airlift fails too.

Bandwidth verdict- If you go in too high on expectations, you will feel betrayed. Go in with some time to kill and you are in for a show.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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