Airlift is based on the real-life incidents of August-October 1990, Kuwait. After Saddam Hussein had captured Kuwait, over 1,70,000 Indians were left stranded; their nationality lost with their documents.
The film is about the incidents that lead up to the Indian Government, with the help of the Indian Army, performing the world’s largest civilian evacuation, so that the stranded Indians could return — to a country they feel has deserted them.
Much like the character he portrays, this film is about Akshay Kumar. With each new film, Akshay Kumar shows deeper and deeper shades of his acting skills. I have always maintained that Akki is one the most versatile actors currently in Bollywood. His range is vast and varied, and this film gives him the platform to showcase some of his lesser exposed skills.
Akshay’s character has pathos, and he emotes the different layers with equal ease. There is a scene in the film when he is heart-broken, fearing that he has lost his family forever. He breaks down, the splinters of his broken soul piercing his heart, making him cry. That scene was for me, the highlight of the film.
Akshay is a huge presence on-screen. He will fill up the canvas and flood you out of the scene with sheer brilliance. It’s not easy being his co-star. And that’s why Nimrat Kaur has done a fantastic job. The best way to work with Akki is to complement him, which Nimrat does with ease — scene for scene, dialogue for dialogue.
I would still say that she was not given her due. She wasn’t utilised to the best of her potential. The script should have offered her more. But in what it does offer, she shines. Brilliantly, beautifully. In fact, too beautifully. (I don’t think she had the right to look so gorgeous in a story whose characters are so desolate.)
Speaking of whom, the minor characters of the film have been beautifully crafted, perfectly cast, and exceptionally performed. Each one of them will leave a lasting impression on you. My favorite was certainly Kumud Mishra as Sanjiv Kohli — a subdued Civil Servant with a conscience.
The movie is also very well directed. At times, though, it does lack in pace, but I would rather blame that on the editing department. However, the slowness is quickly forgotten as you get immersed in visuals. The VFX team has certainly excelled here.
The recreation of a war-torn city, the death, destruction and gore, the despondency of the people, and the brutal repression of an entire nation are all captured very well. It could have been easily overdone. But the director reigns in and projects just enough for us to feel empathy and connect with the victims.
Overall, if you are still wondering if you must go for this movie or not, then stop deciding. You must see it, that’s a no-brainer. You may not agree with the 9.8 IMDB ranking of the film (even I don’t agree with that. 9.8! Seriously!?), but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
And if nothing else, you will get to know what type of films the Khans of Bollywood (and other A-listers) should be making, instead of fooling around with an actress half their age and a script that can be written by a drunk monkey holding a pen in its tail.
My rating: ★★★ ½
Images are screen grabs from the film’s trailer on YouTube.