Airlift - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

A dusty desert wrought with equal measure of humanity and inhumanity. A film that shows you both facets without making much ado about either. Ought to be watched because these 'too good to be true' events are true.



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Wogma Review

Humans for humans. Humans against humans. The story of every war. The story of this world. Airlift brings forth this story without much aplomb. Even if it is not edge-of-the-seat drama, it engages you through the length of the film, despite becoming repetitive.

Airlift is the kind of story that will make you go, “What nonsense! Stuff like that happens only in Hindi films!” What a coincidence that Ranjit Katiyal meets seemingly the most important person in Iraq's attack on Kuwait, when he was seconds away from being shot (for fun!) by Iraqi teenage soldiers! How can over 1.7 lakh people roam around a city being bombed without getting into more trouble than they did? To top it all off, how can a shrewd businessman who is politically incorrect for political reasons, cares only about profit, refuses to call himself Indian have a change of heart, just like that? Maybe some of the things happened differently from the way Airlift puts it up. But, what is shown must be somewhat close to reality. And that's what makes Airlift watchable.

Sure, there must be thousands of details left out. The story despite being 'too good, yet true' seems to have over-simplified things a bit. Especially, when it comes to the 'don't care' attitude of the bureaucracy. Even so, you are not blind to the fact that all the good happened despite of the Indian political system. Just like the humans who help out in times of tragedy contrast so well with the war-mongers who kill without reason; the handful of cogs in the machinery that make the system contrast well with the other parts wanting to bog the system down. The subtle irony is not to be missed – people, some of whom were happy not to be called Indians, look up to the Indian flag while being saved by the efforts of a handful of people because they thought it was the human (not necessarily Indian) thing to do. Not to mention the nation's leadership seems to be completely missing in action. At least, as far as the film goes.

But, scenes like the one with dramatic raising of the Indian flag, or the turning point in Ranjit Katiyal's attitude, or the misplaced songs seem out-of-place compared with the tone of the rest of the film. Thankfully, these are only a few and far between.

The rest of the film flows smoothly and is peppered with interesting characters. Much like real life, put together a group of people and you will fine a few cynical ones, a few who are overwhelmed, a few who take charge and a few who are outright annoying. Purab Kohli's Ibrahim is the silent elf, who goes about his business without much ado. Prakash Belawadi's George is one from the irritating category. He will remind you of that one uncle who wouldn't do a thing for any one else but carries a high sense of entitlement to being looked after. This last one added a much-need, close-to-real-life quirk, however it got overdone soon and became repetitive thereafter.

However, that doesn't take away from the performances. Not only were Purab Kohli and Prakash Belawadi's performances engaging, those of Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur too. Akshay Kumar is always a pleasure to watch when he is in non-hero mode. Even here, when he gets into a fist-fight, he is a common man reacting to something that got to him. Innamulhaq as the Iraqi major has a very distracting accent though because of which his whole act comes off as over-the-top.

Nimrat Kaur, on the other hand, is as convincing as a bored, rich guy's wife as she is as a bickering one and equally as one who stands up for her husband. You can't blame her or even the script if the role called for her to just be a wife, one way or another. Maybe to counter that she is given a monologue – for her character to seem pertinent and keep Airlift from being a movie with barely any women. Good thing then, that it is directed towards a character who deserves the bashing. But maybe that is why the monologue seems stretched a tad bit, because it seems like it has an ulterior motive.

This holds true of a few other scenes and situations too – a little stretched and repetitive. But fortunately, not enough to hamper the pace of the film too much. The climax seems a little rushed, but that is more about over-simplification than the pace of the film.

Yet, Airlift doesn't suffer too bad because of these issues. After all, anything that instills your faith in humanity can suffer only so much because things like pace and length. Especially, because these 'too good to be true' events are true.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: War scenes. One fist fight.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: One scene with molestation.
  • Concept: A true life story of one good Samaritan taking charge of getting 170,000 people out of danger from a war zone
  • General Look and Feel: A dusty desert wrought with equal measure of humanity and inhumanity.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 2.5

Airlift - Trailer

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Comments (16)

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The film's trailer tout it as based on a real story. As far as my memory stretches, and common sense stretches too, I don't think that an evacuation on the scale of a Guiness World Record could be done without agreement of the prevailing government of the country (Kuwait) at that time. And if there is an agreement from the government then there is no drama in the evacuation, it is a classic official evacuation - okay behind a backdrop of war.

So I wonder what kind of fictional story has been concocted around the real life evacuation. I hope that the producer / director is not misleading audience by hyping on the "real story".


The story is indeed a mix of fiction and reality but in my city, i was unable to get the tickets for the first day today.
Friends told me that the movie is not bad but not that good too. It's an average muvi.
Thanks for your review. I was searching for a genuine review to console me for not getting the tickets.


Early trends suggest a huge growth in the evening and night shows among the metropolitan cities. Word of mouth in metros seems to be strong. Kudos Akshay Kumar!


Word of mouth at the end of day 1 is very strong. Good luck to the team.


Although AIRLIFT has the same genre & target audience as BABY, it scores over the latter in 2 regards. Firstly unlike Baby, Airlift has been publicized and promoted exceptionally well which has created a great sense of awareness & anticipation amongst its target audience. One of the biggest problems with Baby was that there was hardly any pre-release hype for that film. And hence we find Airlift opening to much better collections than Baby. Secondly, Akshay Kumar was never a popular enough actor among the urban audiences until Baby happened. The positive word of mouth & the goodwill factor from Baby has indeed rubbed off on Airlift which has enabled Airlift to soar to strong heights. Although Baby was just an Average grosser at the ticket windows (81 cr), it went on to become one of the most watched and admired films of 2015 in the digital television circuit. This goodwill factor has rubbed off well on AIRLIFT.


Well! Can anybody tell if Ranjit Katyal alive or not? Failed to get any news of him on net. Maybe movie throws some light on his present status.
I wonder why during the time of real evacuation in 90's, papers hardly mentioned Mr. Katyal's name.


@Raj : You have never heard of Ranjit Katyal because he is a fictitious character. There was no person by the name of Ranjit Katyal during the 1990 evacuation. The evacuation was synchronized by 5-6 wealthy Indian businessmen based in Kuwaith along with the then external affairs minister IK Gujaral's negotiations with Saddam Hussain.


He generated adequate box office numbers and popularity via mass entertainers like the Khiladi series, Welcome, Singh is King, Housefull series and Rowdy Rathore. And now just like a responsible superstar actor with experience should do, he is giving importance to content oriented films like OMG, Special 26, Baby and Airlift. While his contemporaries continue to involve themselves in stupid box office number games and festival releases by doing films like Dhoom 3, Kick, Dilwale, HNY and PRDP, Akshay Kumar is one superstar who is breaking new ground and exploring himself further in his 3rd decade as a main lead.


@Meeta & co : For everyone (including myself) who accused WAZIR of being a thriller full of loopholes, I recommend you people go through the rules of Chess and try associating that with the movie. A weak pawn (Amitabh Bachchan) moves one step at a time from one end of the chess board to another which finally allows him to invoke the all powerful Queen (Wazir-Farhan Akhtar) in order to destroy the opponent king (Manav Kaul). That's good, smart and extremely tactical use of chess as a metaphor in the movie by writer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Unfortunately, only avid chess players and followers would understand and apply this in context of the film!


Airlift is a "fictional" masterpiece. Read my review on :


Airlift is a "fictional" masterpiece. Read my review on :

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3
Story: 3.5
Lead Actors: 3
Character Artists: 3

Dialogues: 3.5
Screenplay: 2.5
Music Director: 0.5
Lyrics: 0.5


The keen watch on screen : I consider myself keen.

I did watch it and the patriotic moment when the Indians are airlifted did give me goosebumps. But then that was it. The rest of the movie's execution came across as a documentary.

I would like to reserve a few words of appreciation for Akshay Kumar. He is restrained and of the top quality. For the first time I realised how good he is to have survived and excelled in Hindi film industry for 20 years. His dance movements, his successful and to an extent arrogant business man act, his fight to get his countrymen safe, etc. all came across as top quality. He has never been given his due respect in the industry and I feel that is unjust. This movie should help his career and esteem in the industry climb up few notches.


Engaging film. The Iraqi Major seemed to belong to some other film. Akshay has probably never looked better.


Full of cliches. Not much to say about acting. Direction is too loose. Could have been much more with tighter direction and scripts.


@Anuj I get the symbolism, still doesn't work. Too in-the-face, too obvious.

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