When a film based on real people and real life incidents are made, the general tendency is to go overboard, add as much as slow-motion scenes to artificially create more impact. ‘Neerja’ doesn’t do that. ‘Neerja’ is not pretentious. ‘Neerja’ is not manipulative. ‘Neerja’ is definitely one of the best films produced which is so realistic and to the point. The movie captures the hijacking episode that happened in Karachi in 1986 where the bravery of an airhostess helped rescue 300+ passengers. The movie features Sonam Kapoor essaying the title role while Shabana Azmi will be seen playing the role of her mother. Shekhar Ravjiani who is a famous music director is debuting as the male lead in this biopic.
Neerja Bhanot is a model-cum-air hostess in Mumbai with a family that’s her backbone. She loves her job and is made the lead air-hostess for a flight that’s flying from Mumbai to New York via Karachi and Frankfurt. When the flight takes the first halt at Karachi, four terrorists quickly barge in and take the control. The rest of the movie is about the 23-year old’s courage and presence of mind saving the people.
The initial 15 minutes of the movie look a bit scary as it shows some signs of the film going for a toss with some clichéd dialogues and clichéd acting by Sonam and the supporting cast. The continuous mention of veteran actor Rajesh Khanna seemed over-done. However, you just forgive that when KaKa’s reference comes again in Shabana’s cilmax speech. The screenplay here is very impressive, where we see Neerja getting ready for her flight and parallely on the other hand the terrorists are gathering together their explosive belts, AK47s and grenades. Also later in the flight amidst the whole chaos, Neerja recalls her sad past. Those intercuts make the flow much more engaging.
Sonam Kapoor seemed to be the perfect cast as Neerja. She got that look pitch-perfect and we bet no other actress would have resembled the look more than our fashionista. She was good in the film, if not extra-ordinary. A bit annoying when she was with the family but in the airplane she was very apt. Shabana Azmi makes a great impact being very real instead of being a Bollywood conventional mother. The actor who played Neerja’s father was very convincing too. Shekhar Ravjiani is cameo was also a piece to eye. One of the four terrorists was really terrifying. He superbly emoted the ruthlessness, nervousness and the frustration.
The last 20 minutes of the film were heart-wrenching. This piece of cinema is definitely a wonderful tribute to one of the heroes of our nation, ‘Neerja Banot’. The movie conveys a great message of the human spirit.
The movie deserves a standing ovation and Neerja Banot deserves a big salute.