“Jeete raho,Khush Raho, mast raho” are the opening lines of the movie, said by Neerja’s mother to bless the film that honours her daughters sacrifice to save 359 lives.
Well, many of us who may not have known Neerja, it is the story of an Indian air hostess, Neerja Bhanot who died saving the lives of her passengers during the PANAM 73 highjack in 1986. Director Ram Madhvani makes seems to be spot on in his portrayal on India’s brave heart daughter.
Neerja portrayed by Sonam Kapoor is a 23 year old heart throb Punjabi girl, who is a model and air hostess coming from a supportive Punjabi family. With the experience and aura of actors like Shabana Azmi, playing Neerja’s mother and Yogendra Tiku, playing her father, the screen is set alive. Progressing with the happy go lucky life of Neerja, the movie simultaneously highlights the planning of a highjack in Karachi. As we progress, the movie tends to get more intense and serious, leading to a series of events which seem to be presented quite well.
With a string of real life stories being presented in Bollywood over the years, we have seen a drastic shift in movies like Black Friday to Neerja. One need not reiterate throught the journey, but the kind of viewership, effort and sense pumped into real life Bollywood portrayal has been an unsung achievement of the Indian Cinema.
Coming back to our protagonist, Neerja, the director gives a detail sketch of her life background in the first 20 to 25 minutes. Despite most of the movie based on the high jack, the story tellers manage to give us a glimpse into Neerja’s past and the hardships she has faced. With a failed marriage behind her, Neerja looks forward to make a fresh start in life. Despite the grave consequences she is put across in her life, she is always reminded of her father’s words, signifying the importance of courage, belief and not to take wrong from anyone.
Neerja is a story that is nothing but a fairy tale in today’s world. Throughout the high jack, this brave flight attendant ensures she keeps her calm and comes to the aid and safety of her passengers. It is due to her intelligence and presence of mind that 359 lives are saved out of the 379 passengers on the plane.
At this moment, I would like to take a moment and applaud the efforts of Sonam Kapoor, who I personally thought would not have been able to pull of such a bold character, given her past performances in Dolly ki Doly and Khoobsurat, but the girl goes on to display some acting gene she inherits from her father, Anil Kapoor. Her acting seems to bring Neerja to life on the screen and makes you believe that no one could do this part better than her.
From the point her parents receive the news of the highjack till the point they receive the news of her demise, Neerja’s entire family is put through a ghastly time. As said by her mother at her one year death anniversary that the pain to lose a young 23 year old daughter is unbearable. Her mother goes onto glorify her valour and courage equalling it to the strength and sense pf protection provided by a brother to his sister in Indian families.
Speaking from a critic’s point of view, Neerja has definitely won my heart and it will go onto win your too. Despite a little slow beginning, which does have it’s own effect towards the end, Neerja has no flaws to be pointed out. Kudos, to the team to put forth an example of daunting courage and bravery before the youth of this country. May your story reach millions of hearts and rest in peace.
My Rating: 4.5/5