Why you must watch Airlift

This is not a movie review. I am not going to talk in detail about things like whether the screenplay was top notch, or whether the direction was good, the songs were too many etc. These are things best left to experts on how a movie should be made. My short observation would be that there is scope for improvement in most of the above parameters. Yes, its not the best “movie” to come out of Bollywood, but still I say you must watch it.

I say so because this is a story which every Indian should know about. It is the story of how 1.70 lakh Indians were rescued from a war-zone. It is a story which shows what happens when you are told to leave behind all your belongings, your land, you house, your car. It is a story of how people live under a reign of terror, yet somehow keep the hope alive, that one day everything will be ok. It is a story of how often we are frustrated with inaction from our elected representatives that we take matters into our own hands.

From the above you would think this movie is some sort of fast-paced thriller, but as it unfolds, you realize the tragedy behind it. The tragedy that watching a movie is the only way to find out what happened during a mission which has its place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airline. The tragedy that the real life heroes in this effort, Sunny Matthews and Harbajan Singh Vedi are all but unknown in India.

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airlift kuwait

The movie is an indictment. An indictment of out society that such stories which show the peaks to which humanity can reach, are subdued in the discourse of India. An indictment of our education system, which may tell us about how some foreign Government played achieved something extra-ordinary, but is silent about the valiant efforts of Indians.

No I am not saying you should watch this movie to support Akshay Kumar who has been speaking against the intolerance brigade. Not because the movie is seen to be some sort of nationalist jingoistic chest-thumping exercise by some alleged liberals. Not because such movies need to be supported and promoted unlike the other trash that Bollywood churns with alarming regularity.

I say you watch this movie purely out of the selfish motive of enriching yourself with knowledge about this event. It is highly unlikely that any of us would ever know about the scale, the intensity, the grit , the determination of a few Indians in Kuwait and in India, which enabled us to pull off such a massive feat.

Sure, it is a movie finally. And there are bound to be some cinematic liberties and inaccuracies. Some characters may not be exactly how they are/were in real life. Some scenes may be far from accurate representations of the actual on the ground situation from back then. And yet I insist that you watch this movie, because the sad truth is this is probably the only easy way of learning about this incident.

Maybe this movie will prompt some people in the know to come forward and narrate to us exactly what happened. Maybe there already are books written on this event, which accurately describe the chain of events, which lead us to the real heroes. May be these books will now be unearthed and read widely.

Let us hope that this movie sparks a desire in us to read and find out more about this incident. May it lead us to many more such incidents from our history which have been subdued by out “pre-eminent” “historians”. May it wake up our educationists to the fact that Indian history textbooks need to be update with such feats. May we realize that such individuals need to be glorified, not some fake God-men. Let us hope, like the people stranded in Kuwait, that one day, things will be better.


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