If you’re in Mumbai or Bangalore, kindly keep standing through Raja Sen’s Airlift. Yes, that patriotism.
Airlift is based on the story of one of the world’s largest evacuation drives in the world, during the Iraq-Kuwait war. Akshay Kumar plays Ranjit Katiyal, a Kuwaiti businessman who has got it all there. A plush home, cars, flourishing business. He behaves like a prick to his drivers, servants and sometimes even to his wife, Amrita Katiyal, essayed by Nimrat Kaur. He’s so full of himself that he keeps India out of his system.
No Indian songs in the car. No India tourism. And no, nothing about Indian government. Well, even Sulman Rushdie talks about coming to India sometimes. But Katiyal seemed to be a tougher nut.
It was all going well. Until Saddam Hussein decides to invade Kuwait. The adolescent Iraqi army is let loose with guns and tanks.
Ranjit then meets Major Khalaf (A wonderful portrayal by Inaamul Haq), and tries to convince him to let his family go. But Karma is called a ‘bitch’ for a reason. It turns out Major Khalaf was once a security in-charge of Katiyal, the pricky guy. So, this was naturally ‘badla time’. In hindsight, Major Khalaf turned out to be an ‘Itch-guard’, transforming the prick to a priest.
And then Katiyal sahab ko nani yaad aati hai. Or as Katiyal tell Ibrahim (Again, a very intense and controlled performance by Purab Kohli) “Jab chot lagti hai to bachha maa ko hi yaad karta hai”.
The film stands out for the slick action and raw storytelling. Arijit Singh jumps once in a while to say, “Hello, Bollywood”, otherwise the film does fine to maintain the realism.
Katiyal then takes over the responsibility of “Ek laakh, sattar hazaar hindustani”. The film then weaves through plundering Iraqi soldiers, over-timing and under-working Indian government servants, and bad luck.
The end, everyone knows, is a happy one. That was the idea right? 26 January. Patriotism. Coming home with a Tiranga saying, “Aaj se roz salute”. Well, it serves the purpose. Also, the weather is quite ‘Kool’ already, it’s high time for a heart-warming desh-bhakti film.
You may sit now.