Vampire Owl: So, we get to watch the movie which is known as the best of Sonam Kapoor.
Vampire Bat: And the movie which managed to be the Best Feature Film in Hindi for the year at 64th National Film Awards.
Vampire Owl: Her movies before this one happens to be Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Dolly Ki Doli and Khoobsurat, right?
Vampire Bat: It is indeed a scary list. But we should look beyond them as humans are unpredictable in many ways.
Vampire Owl: The last time I trusted one of them, I lost a feather. It was a pre-historic feather which Doctor Frankenstein attached to me.
Vampire Bat: Come on, Bewakoofiyaan which came before these movies was quite an okay movie.
Vampire Owl: I don’t even think about that kind of movies.
Vampire Bat: Don’t tell me that you don’t have the feeling that this could be good or even more than that.
Vampire Owl: I have no feelings about some movies; I just watch as if right out a coffin sleep.
Vampire Bat: Well, lets just watch this one then.
[Gets three cups of Ceylon tea with Arrowroot biscuits].
What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the tale of Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) who is in her early twenties, living with her family and having a normal life. She used to be a model, and is now performing the duties of a flight attendant in Pan American World Airways, of which her mother Rama Bhanot (Shabana Azmi) doesn’t have that much of an opinion. The company which was largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until 1991 has her assigned to Pan American Flight 73 which started from the Sahar International Airport in Mumbai, going through Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, as well as Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, until finally reaching John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. For the same, she is taken to the airport by her friend Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani) who has feelings for her. But there is a past that haunts her, and has kept her away from relationships.
And what is the flashback all about? :: There was that unhappy arranged marriage of her, to Naresh (Kavi Shastri), a man working in Qatar, who had abused her over the dowry and her lack of expertise in doing household work, especially in cooking for him – he is particularly angry at her for him having to spend his money to buy food from outside and expects her to keep good and tasty food ready each and every day when he returns from work. But it doesn’t satisfy him despite her trying so hard. In the end, she returns home and takes up modelling again. Naresh sends a letter from the Middle East, accusing her of not good at looking after home, and asks her not to return without more money. Devastated, she decides never to return to him, supported by her family members. She finds a job as a flight attendant with Pan American World Airways at the same time, and decides to be happy, remaining the big fan of fan of actor Rajesh Khanna, frequently using the quotes from his films as goes through her simple life.
So, what happens next? :: As the flight reaches Karachi from Mumbai, four members of the Abu Nidal terrorist organisation, Libyan sponsored and based out of Palestine, murders the guards, and enters the airplane with guns, grenades and other explosives. Dressed as security guards, they make it through rather easily and keeps everyone at gunpoint. As the hijackers were not aware that the cockpit of this particular flight, Boeing 747 is upstairs, Neerja gets enough time to alert the three American pilots who quickly escapes through the overhead hatch, making their way to the terminal, despite the terrorists keeping on firing at them. This meant that the flight could no longer take off, and the four terrorists, Khalil (Jim Sarbh), Fahad (Vikrant Singta), Safirini (Abrar Zahoor) and Mansoor (Ali Baldiwala) were left in the airplane with their plan already becoming not that effective. But they are determined to kill any number of people if no pilot was sent to the plane – they would start by those holding American passports; who all will survive this unleashing of terror?
The defence of Neerja :: The tale of the courageous lady who saved the lives of 359 people from the clutches of Libyan-sponsored Palestinian terrorists is nothing less than inspiring a long salute from the bottom of the heart, and the courage displayed will inspire more. The movie also makes us sad and depressed about the ongoing acts of terrorism, but makes us believe that there is someone like her who becomes the light. Sonam Kapoor deserves the appreciation for the work that she has done here, coming from some of those terrible movies which gave her not much to work on. But Sonam has brought her best ever performance here, and it is something that will ask for the appreciation, and we shall provide her the same for living through the life of this young lady who died saving lives. She seems to fit in this role better than the rest of the roles in her career, and a lot of Bollywood actresses could have messed this up by overacting, or messed the whole thing up adding unnecessary elements, but here, the leading actress as well as the director keeps things in control. Yes, this one goes realistic.
The claws of flaw :: Neerja, when you look at it as a movie, doesn’t have that much depth to the proceedings. It is all dependent on Sonam Kapoor, and the rest are just there to support her and make sure that she gets more and more chances to do better. We can also see what might be an attempt not to get further into detail, as there is not much talked about the background of the hijacking, and also about how the terrorists decided on this path, as well as a background check on them. There is not much in the music to go for either. The terrorists are also not that much interesting, but that should be more about them also being custom made to fit in, rather than become the people that they have been or should have been. You will also find that there are moments when Sonam Kapoor misses out, but they will be forgotten as they are too minute to notice. In the end, the movie should have also focused more on her being the inspiration rather than focusing on the sadness, for Neerja as well as the flight attendants have all achieved something that anyone related to them could be proud of.
How it finishes :: The biographical movies as well as flicks inspired by real events have been the strong point of Bollywood for some time, even as mindless movies do get to one hundred crore of box-office collection with ease. You know how well Airlift and Rustom turned out to be, no matter how much fiction was added. As a biopic based on the life of someone who who saved life at the cost of her own, and on the one who became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime award for bravery, who was also the first woman to receive the same, this is a movie worth even more. In the year 2004, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp in memory of her. Pakistan government also presented her with Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat, for showing incredible human kindness. These are the kind of tales which should become movies more, so that people can believe that humanity is not without hope, and that there is still chance for redemption of mankind. Movies on such good, brave, men and women will always inspire us to do something great, which we at some point had thought to be impossible. Lets hope that we will be delivered from evil.
Release date: 19th February 2016
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Ram Madhvani
Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku, Shekhar Ravjiani, Kavi Shastri, Sadh Orhan, Vikrant Singta, Jim Sarbh, Abrar Zahoor, Ali Baldiwala, Kavi Shastri, Bobby Arora, Edward Sonnenblick, Arnold Malek, Waqar Khan, Nikhil Sangha, Arjun Aneja, Sushil Tyagi, Ismail Mohammed Mirza, Andy von Eich, Meghana Kaushik, Eisha Chopra, Sunanda Wong, Anjali Khurana, Shashi Bhushan, Aarush Rana, Shaurya Chopra, Vishwendra Singh, Chandra Thakur, Manya Chopra, Prashant Guptha, Asha Joshi, Alex Kozyrev, Ikhlaque Khan
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.