Monday, February 29, 2016

Neerja -- heroism of a young woman in real life

The real Neerja Bhanot, the charming model and air-hostess

Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot -- compelling portrayal

It is not a easy movie to make by mainstream Hindi norms, and it is an impossible for the art-house Hindi film-makers to make it either. The commercial cinema would have needed more of the melodrama than the story allowed. The art-house film-makers are incapable of looking at bad guys as such. So, there was need for the middle of the road, Hollywood-type drama. Hindi cinema folks seem to be mastering the art of making a movie based on a dramatic moment, and keeping the melodrama under strict control. It has been shown successfully in "Airlift" despite its inaccuracies. Ram Madhvani has managed to tell the story of 22-year-old Neerja Bhanot, a PanAm air-hostess, caught aboard a hijacked plane.
The movie has a terrific screenplay and slick editing, two departments which are often overlooked in the making of a movie in India. The early scenes in the movie are sliced effectively to show the air-hostess and the hijackers preparing for the fateful flight. Neerja's troubled marriage is again juxtaposed to great effect with the testing situation that she finds herself on board the plane.
Sonam Kapoor has portrayed the role of Neerja with admirable flair, showing that she has oodles of talent to go with her photogenic face and perfect smile and the ideal figure for a fashionista. Shabana Azmi plays the mother of Neerja with predictable conviction.
The film stays close to the tense situation in the plane for the most part. The terrorists do not look credible enough because the gunmen belong to a different era and were of a different persuasion, a point that the film-makers seemed to have missed. But this is forgiveable because the movie succeeds in telling an interesting real-life dramatic story.
Sonam Kappor's performance compels us to recall the real Neerja Bhanot, and it is her charming face that will haunt the viewers long after they have come out of the movie hall. It is also a reminder that the troubled times have always been with us.

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