Neerja Bhanot is a name that went down in history in the 80s. However, in today’s day and age not many would have heard about this brave air hostess if it wasn’t for Sonam Kapoor starrer ‘Neerja’ which is directed by Ram Madhvani and produced by Atul Kasbekar. At the age of 22, Bhanot took a flight as head purser which was taken over by hijackers in Karachi. With Kapoor playing Bhanot and pretty pretty much holding the film on her shoulders, will this real-life story strike a chord with the audiences?
Madhvani has been strong in making sure a scene was set prior to showing the hijack on the big screen. He sets the background by showing Kapoor thinking about Bhanot’s past which does well in keeping the audience’s attention when the story gets a bit too overwhelming. He has also been careful to include as much of the true events in the film as possible – a lot of which often comes across as pure bravery from Bhanot and how she was strong enough to stand in front of the hijackers and manage to save the majority of their lives.
Kapoor’s performance is more than praiseworthy. She has not been seen in such a role previously and shines in this role like never before. Although her emotions and actions are all easy to relate to as a member of the audience, there are a few places where she fails to gain the emotional connect of the audience and this sometimes lets down the overall narrative.
Shabana Azmi is perfect in playing Bhanot’s mother, Rama, who sadly passed away in December 2015, before she could see her late daughter’s brave story on celluloid. There is no role that Azmi takes up which she doesn’t deserve praise in but particularly in the role of Rama, she is a reminder of the everyday in a story that is extraordinary. Shekhar Ravjiani makes his big screen debut as Bhanot’s love interest in the film and although the role was a short one, it was indeed impactful and he makes a decent start to hopefully a proper acting career.
‘Neerja’ is an inspiring and poignant story and the way it has been brought to the screen absolute does her justice. May we never forget this brave soul who saved so many lives.
BizAsia Showbiz rating: 4/5