Ok first things first.
Of all the Bollywood actresses, I never thought Sonam Kapoor would be the one to actually make me sob during the majority part of a film.
So Sonam, take a bow!
This is by far her best performance, and thanks to this, I will always look forward to her future releases with anticipation, unlike before.
Coming to the movie, Neerja.
It tells the story of Pan Am airline’s 23 years old Head Purser Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor), who bravely and selflessly saves the lives of over 300 passengers from terrorists, without worrying about her own life. The film follows the events of 5th September 1986, when Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked by militants in Karachi, Pakistan. The ill-fated flight had 379 people aboard it, including passengers and crew, out of which 359 survived and made it out alive, thanks mainly to the courageous efforts of Neerja. Her ability to remain calm and strong, even in the most dire situations, was the reason why 359 people got a second chance at life.
While the story is simple and straightforward, it is the beautifully constructed script written by Saiwyn Quadras, and the brilliant direction of Ram Madhvani, that gives Neerja the edge of superiority and class over other typical Bollywood films.
Neerja has the ability to compel even the strongest of human beings to shed a tear. Going into the movie, I knew prior hand that it was going to be a tearjerker. Since its based on the real life story of the braveheart Neerja Bhanot, whose fate I already knew, I thought going in prepared would actually help me control my emotions. But an hour into the film, and I realized it was going to be an uphill task to keep my eyes dry.
All thanks to the powerful and absolutely incredible performances by Shabana Azmi(who convincingly plays Neerja’s mother, Rama Bhanot), Sonam Kapoor and Yogendra Tiku(who plays Neerja’s father, Harish Bhanot). So much so, that I came to dread every moment she came on screen, only because I knew I’d have to get my handkerchief out to wipe my tears, thanks to her masterful performance.
Watching Neerja not only made me realize how precious life is, and that we should treasure every moment with our dear ones, but it also showed just how brave, strong and selfless human beings can be. What, the 23 years old Neerja did, was a feat that even the toughest of men/women can only dream of achieving. And ultimately, it made all my troubles and insecurities seem like a pebble as compared to the mountain of danger and horror that Neerja had to face and fight, during the hijack.
It’s high time people like Neerja Bhanot and Mathunny Mathews(Airlift) are recognized and celebrated, even if it’s through the medium of cinema, so that their sacrifices and courage are etched in the minds of every Indian.
I knew the story of Neerja Bhanot, but the movie still stirred my soul and touched my heart very deeply. If you are tired of the same old-item-songs laden Bollywood movies, then Neerja could definitely be your initiation to the world of serious and classy Hindi dramas. For fans of Sonam Kapoor, this movie will remain your favorite movie of hers for a long time to come.
*P.S. Just don’t forget to carry a box of tissues to the cinema hall, especially if you are a girl who’s PMSing.
My Ratings -4/5