Neerja helmed by Ram Madhvani is a MUST-WATCH biopic as it pays a befitting tribute to the indomitable spirit of young Indian brave girl who made the supreme sacrifice in line of her duty. Neerja's story is a story that every Indian should be aware as well as proud of. It really baffles me that it took 30 years for Bollywood to come up with a film on Neerja Bhanot. But, the timing couldn't have been better as the movie has released at a time when the nation is going through a turbulent phase as some destructive forces are trying to divide the country over caste and political issues.
Neerja stood for and was face of genuine humanism as she made no distinction between nationalities of her passengers when their life was in danger. The film is based on the true story of 1986 when some Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Pan Am flight in Karachi. That was Neerja Bhanot's first flight as a chief purser and the film chronicles how Neerja with her presence of mind and bravery not only saved the lives of her passengers but also laid down her life in the process.
There are ample moments in the film that celebrate the fine qualities that Neerja possessed which include grit, resolve, presence of mind and above all extreme humanism. These moments make you rise and salute Neerja, the extraordinary story of this brave girl. The screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Saiwyn Quadras who has smartly packaged the narrative in nonlinear pattern. The movie begins with Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) returning back to her home in a taxi and mouthing a line of her favorite superstar Rajesh Khanna to the taxi driver, '" Zindagi lambi nahin badi honi chahiye, babu moshay". She is lovingly called Laddo by her doting mother Rama Bhanot (Shabana Azmi) and ever encouraging father Harish Bhanot (Yogendra Tiku). On September 5, 1986, while Neerja is getting ready to fly as chief purser for the first time, four terrorists owing allegiance to Palestine's Abu Nidal outfit are offering their last prayer in Lyari, Karachi. When the terrorists are able to board the fight along with ammunition, a timely alert by Neerja to the pilots helps the pilots to run away from cockpit through an overhead cockpit hatch.. Without pilots in the cockpit, the plan of terrorists suffers a huge setback. Hereafter, the exemplary traits and qualities of Neerja Bhanot come into display. With her presence of mind, she ably hides the passports of U.S. Nationals who were the immediate target. During the hold up that lasted 16 hours, Neerja Bhanot never let the terrorists overpower her indomitable spirit.
Sonam Kapoor has delivered performance of a lifetime as Neerja Bhanot in the film. Succint to say, Sonam is the soul of this movie. She every inch looks the woman of substance who follows her heart and achieves what she wants. Sonam has come out completely convincing as the bubbly girl with nerves of steel. Sonam seems to have imbibed the traits of Neerja of being courageous, bold, level headed and vulnerable (at times) and portrayed them effectively on-screen.
Shabana Azmi delivers a stellar performance as Neerja's mother, Rama Bhanot. You could relate to her worries and aspersions regarding safety of her daughter. Her speech at the end of the film was so heartfelt that i was left with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Need, I say more.
Yogendra Tiku's performance as Neerja's father is applause worthy. He keeps on instilling fearlessness and self strength in his daughter during their conversations. His performance is so genuine that you could walk in his shoes when you see him sitting in his office in a hapless state knowing that the plane carrying his daughter has been hijacked.
Shekhar Ravjiani (special appearance) has given an earnest performance as Neerja's friend, Jaideep who loves her and wants her to take a second chance after her bitter experiences from first marriage.
The musical soundtrack as well as background music for the film has been composed by Vishal Khurana which is apt as per the narrative and the genre of the movie. The cinematographer of the movie is Mitesh Mirchandani who has done a swell job at capturing visuals. Mitesh has ably captured the exigency and neurosis in the narrow cabin by using jerky handheld camerawork. The movie has been edited by Monisha Baldawa who has kept the run-time of the movie to 122 minutes. Monisha's editing is spot-on,crisp and flawless. As a director, Ram Madhvani has hits bulls eye and done full justice to Neerja's tale of valor. Ram scores all the brownie points for sticking to the chosen line and not crafting the events that unfurled in over dramatized way. He has portrayed the historical story of model-turned-air hostess in the most apt and justifiable manner. He wastes no time as the film arrives straight to the point and builds a tension that remains till the very end. It is because of Madhvani's spotless direction that you remain glued in your seats till the end credits roll out. The way that Madhvani has shown Neerja's troubled past during the moments of her vulnerability when the plane has been hijacked is applause-worthy.
Neerja is a MUST WATCH as it shows that its natural to live & die for oneself but most Super-Heroism & Humanism to do for others. Neerja is a portrayal of the most powerful person whose pro-action and perfect decisions made her an immensely celebrated and gallantry decorated Legend of Martyr. A story of a REAL LIFE HERO whose fears to her courage, life-threats to her determination and duty to true humanity, felt too short comparatively.
Know her, Acknowledge her and Salute her, right away !!!!!
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