Very often, an average movie watcher would tend to get distracted and perhaps influenced by the subject matter of the movie to such an extent that even very average movies get cloaked in the aura of the subject matter and in the process all the cinematic flaws recede into the background. A recent case was the Akshay Kumar starrer AIRLIFT, whose subject of mass evacuation struck a deep chord with the Indians residing in the Middle East despite its numerous cinematic glitches.
When I was watching Ram Madhwani’s NEERJA, I therefore decided that I must emotionally distance myself from the content of this biopic about Neeraja Bhanot, who fell victim to the bullets of the hijackers of the PAN AM flight 73 at Karachi Airport about three decades ago. Neerja Bhanot, who was then just 23 years old, and who had a traumatic experience in a failed marriage became the youngest recipient of the Ashoka Chakra award for display of bravery during peace time.
From the very first shot, the manner of story telling which Ram Madhwani relies on grips you and draws you right to where the action takes place. And in two hours, you are tossed from one chilling scene to another with brief interludes of the emotional consequences of the happenings inside the aircraft on the passengers, the head purser Neerja, her parents and her dear admirer and also the hijackers themselves. And like all the passengers on the ill fated flight, who are virtually tied down to their seats because of the circumstances, the audience watching this narration clutches the side arms of the theatre seats.
Sonam Kapoor puts her heart and soul in a manner not seen before in playing the role of Neerja; Shabana Azmi comes out with an emotionally charged performance without any hysterics and the actors playing the role of the hijackers brought in so much of reality that made quite a few of the viewers ask : Are these guys Indians?
The writer Saiwyn Quadras, whose previous effort was MARY KOM, the biopic on the boxer deserves kudos for the scripting and the rest of the crew contributes effectively to create this must see production.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5
February 20, 2016