Produced by - Atul Kasbekar, Shanti Sivaram Maini, Bling Unplugged, Fox Star Studios
Director - Ram Madhvani
Cast - Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravjiani
Rating - ***
A good effort to bring alive the story of a girl who fought for the lives of others and lost her life. Neerja Bhanot, the winner of prestigious Ashok Chakra award, will always be remembered by people for her unique service that serves as an inspiration for people and teaches to do one's duty properly. She got this award posthumously for her bravery she displayed while saving passengers from the terrorists who hijacked the plane in which she was serving as a purser. Such movies not only serve the interests of the filmmakers and the audience but inspire and enlighten by bringing the truth forward that is mostly hidden in the books and the newsreel stocks.
After a gap of many years, the director Ram Madhvani came with this biographical movie and his choice of the subject turns out to be the winner. Sonam Kapoor has done her best in the role of Neerja Bhanot. Neerja Bhanot aka Laado by her family was the pampered daughter and was lively and humble. Her biggest attraction was her liking for Rajesh Khanna. Being a Rajesh Khanna diehard fan, she quipped his dialogues from time to time and likes his songs. That is why we can have the Rajesh Khanna song in the party at the beginning of the movie.
Since the movie catches the thrill of the terrorists hijacking a plane that is grounded on airport in Karachi, Pakistan, most of the time the film has been shot with handheld camera. Plus the depiction of dimly lit scenes somewhere signifies the theme of the film. The film starts with a fun and fervor as we see Neerja with her family, enjoying and her chemistry with her parents. And as the film progresses, it turns into a tear jerker particularly near the end when Neerja loses the battle of life. Her mother played by Shabana Azmi gives an emotional speech after receiving Ashok Chakra for her dead daughter Neerja.
Neerja Bhanot was trapped in a bad marriage to an Indian man. Within months after marriage, she separated and ultimately got divorced. Apart from serving in the airlines, she did modeling and earned good name in both arenas.
The film NEERJA has been kept mostly true as per the events with a little traces of fiction inserted at times just to add the flavour. When four terrorists hijack the plane and want to make it fly to their desired destination, it is the brave effort of Neerja to call the captain of the plane and inform them that the plane has been hijacked, that gives them the time to flee before the four terrorists storm the cockpit. The sympathy and the care that Neerja shows while the terrorists are harassing and putting their demands, are really appreciable. Sonam Kapoor looks cute and her bad marriage memories shown in the flashbacks shows the emotional side of her in a brave way. Her character has been depicted as a brave person, not going to give up easily even if it means to lay down one's life for others. And this is what exactly Neerja Bhanot played by Sonam Kapoor, does in the film. Songs and background score add zing to the film and makes it a winner. For emotional drama lovers, this film is a must watch!