#Neerja is a biographical thriller movie directed by Ram Madhvani starring Sonam Kapoor in the lead role. Following the emerging trend in Bollywood, of making films inspired from true events (about the life of unsung heroes) in History (say Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Marykom, Bajirao Mastani, Airlift, etc.,), Neerja is also an inspiring story of a less-know hero, which everyone needs to know.
The film revolves around the Abu Nidal Organization’s hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi (Pakistan) in September 1986. The film specifically focuses on Neerja Bhanot, the head purser who impeded the hijack attempt by preventing the plane from taking off, which resulted in the lives of 360 hostages being saved.
The film begins with a party at Neerja Bhanot‘s house, and the next 30 to 35 minutes shows the personal side of her – her love for Actor Rajesh Khanna, her family which supports her a lot, her mother who wants her to continue with modeling (her previous profession) rather than the risky air-hostess job, Neeraja‘s unsuccessful marriage life and her boyfriend Jaideep who loves her for what she is. Though we feel that if this level of detailing on her personal life was needed, the second half justifies all of them. The film shows how important ‘Laado’ was, for her family.
40 minutes into the film, once the hijackers enter the plane, the film gets into the ‘edge of the seat’ thriller mode. The director starts building tension in the screenplay eventually and it grows to a different level till the climax. The ‘thrill factor’ works perfectly, tying the audience to their seats. The dialogues are too simple yet strong such as ‘Fear gives us courage’, ‘Life must be big, not long’ and in the interval scene where Neerja replies to the head of terrorists that ‘I am doing my job only, just like you are’; not to miss this hero’s last words ‘Pushpa, I hate tears’ 😦
The director’s brilliance is seen in using ‘parallel narration’ to blend the emotions in her past with her fearful feeling at the hijack scenario. Few intense scenes where she gets into the washroom after a passenger’s death (connected with the scene in Doha) and the excellent placement of her father’s advice (To be brave and not to do or tolerate anything wrongful) helps the audience to relate how Neerja would have felt exactly in that situation giving an insight on her thought process. The film is slow paced and there are some stretched moments, but still these flaws does not stop us from getting enthralled of its magic. The only minus is a song that comes in the second half in halfway suddenly (Does our audience really need this type of songs that lessens the over-all impact of such important films to a notable extent?!)
The director must be highly lauded for presenting this biopic in such a way that we could see the transformation of a 22 years old innocent, fearful girl into a brave head purser who feels responsible for her passengers. God, how could someone be so selfless and daring!! Salutes to the brave martyr Neerja Bhanot!
Undoubtedly, this will be a landmark film in Sonam Kapoor‘s career. She carries the whole film by giving life to the character of Neerja Bhanot. Initially, we see a little struggling in Sonam Kapoor which makes us doubt if she can pull-off such a huge role; but, in a couple of scenes, Sonam sets everything right fitting her into this memorable role. She excels in various emotions such as fear and vulnerability in the first half, the clarity and self-motivation towards interval, the feelings of ill-treatment and belittling at Doha and the compassion & boldness in the climax; definitely, Sonam will be remembered for so many years for playing Neerja‘s role so aptly. Other actors who did a great job was Yogendra Tiku and Shabana Azmi as Neerja’s parents; Shabana Azmi has just nailed it as a worried mother.
Verdict: A blazing story that everyone needs to see! You will leave the theater wet-eyed, with a huge respect for Neerja Bhanot. An absolute must-watch!
Review by: Rahman
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