Movie Review: Neerja

Neerja: A befitting tribute to brave heart Neerja Bhanot

Neerja Movie ReviewMovies based on real life incidents are very difficult to make as the people are aware of most of the facts and to top it all are aware of the outcome in such a scenario it is a challenge for the director and the writers to weave in a screenplay which keeps the audience glued till the end….

“Neerja” is based on the PAN AM plane highjack incident of 1986 in Karachi where the flight purser Neerja Bhanot saved the lives of 329 passengers from the Palestine terrorists. Neerja (Sonam Kapoor) a senior purser of PAN AM and a part time model boards PAN AM Flight 73 on 5th September 1986 to New York via Karachi and Frankfurt. When the flight lands in Karachi early morning 5th Sept’86 it is high jacked by Palestine terrorists, who had a plan to fly the plane to Cyprus and force the Government to free the Palestine terrorists who have been jailed. But their plan hits a road block when the pilot crew of the flight escape from the cock pit. The passengers and the rest of the crew are stranded with the terrorists in the flight not knowing what will happen. How Neerja with her intelligence and bravery is successful in saving the lives of the passengers forms the crux of the story.

One of the biggest highlight of the movie is its story and screenplay by Saiwyn Quadras. The screenplay captures the string of events in a thriller format keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Saiwyn beautifully weaves in back story of Neerja Bhanot’s failed marriage in the screenplay. Where the screenplay scores the highest is its characterization, whether it Neerja Bhanot’s characterization or her mother’s Rama Bhanot’s characterization or her father Harish Bhanot, even the terrorists, every character has been written with utmost precision which eventually elevates the narration. Another highlight of the screenplay is its pace which does not slow even for a moment but still it has the emotional quotient intact. The mother daughter track is the best track of the movie; it gives you the moments and also builds the tension. Saiwyn has been successful in maintaining the tension all throughout the movie without making it melodramatic and keeping it as realistic as possible. Though I felt a back story of why the terrorists high jacked the plane would have been put an extra edge to the narration, but overall the screenplay is the winner….

Dialogues by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh are real and believable without any melodrama or any discourses on patriotism or bravery. To keep it realistic the dialogues of the terrorists have been kept in their native language with sub titles without trying to explain in Hindi which does not hamper the narration. The best dialogue off course is in the climax which gives the last bit of finishing touch to the story of a brave heart Neerja Bhanot…..

Second highlight of the movie are its performances, Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot makes it her own and gives a crackling performance, frankly her best till date. To be honest I had written off the movie even before watching “Neerja” as I thought that Sonam Kapoor was a wrong choice for the movie, but I am happy to say that I was wrong. But the best performance has been of Shabana Azmi as Neerja’s mother Rama Bhanot, she underplays her character as a house wife in the beginning but slowly and steadily displays the strength of a tough woman as the movie progresses. Shabana Azmi kills it in the climax with her performance and ends the movie on a high. Yogendra Tikku as Neerja’s father Harish Bhanot also does a brilliant job of a supportive father. Music composer Shekhar Ravjiani debuts in a cameo of Neerja’s lover Jaideep, and he shines in the cameo though there was not much to be done. Jim Sarbh as the hot tempered terrorist Khalil is the most impactful performance of the movie. Jim’s portrayal exudes tension in the narration and the unpredictable streak kept the audience guessing. Rest of the cast also does a commendable job making the movie worth a watch…

Third highlight of the movie is the back ground score by Vishal Khurana which enhanced the tension of the narration. Vishal did not make it jarring or overpowering the sequences, but blended with the narration….

Fourth highlight of the movie it is production design by Aparna Sud and Anna Ipe, recreating the PAN AM flight to Karachi Airport to a middle class house everything is done with precision and with eye on details. Especially the PAN AM flight, no where will you feel that it is a set….

Ram Madhwani  in his first Hindi and second movie as a director (his first movie was the highly acclaimed Boman Irani starrer “Let’s Talk” in 2002) showcases his genius well. Right from the research for the story to extracting brilliant performances from the cast, especially Sonam Kapoor to an engaging narration, Ram has hit the bull’s eye. He really has proved that he is director to watch out for and you do not need to be melodramatic to show bravery or patriotism, it can be subtly done with realism and yet can create an impact….

A movie NOT TO be missed and worth a watch I will go with 4 stars….

Movie Rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5)

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