A film based on a true life story is by default intriguing. Even if we take the 'true' of that phrase with a pinch of salt. Such films have the advantage of not having to worry about being unpredictable. That could tip the balance of the film's acceptance by the audience on 'how' it plays out.
The trailer doesn't raise any red flags except maybe it seems a tad dramatic. However, it feels like that is because of the way the trailer has been edited and hopefully the film will keep excessive drama at bay.
Surprisingly, there are no music reviews out yet. Maybe, that is a good sign. The focus is on telling the story and not the marketing of it? Or rather the story is marketing itself.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Finally, we have a story that absorbs us completely. It isn't a surprise then that it is not fiction, not something created by someone through their imagination. In fact, the story is what it is because it is true. It is heartening because such humanity is not 'just in the movies'. Would Neerja, the film have the same impact if the story weren't true? Difficult to say. However, the story would certainly have been forgotten by many if it weren't for the film. And, of course, the story could have been forgettable, if it wasn't told this well.
It has been a long time since I heard applause by audience after the film ended and it has been a long time since I had tears well up and roll away because of a performance. Every time Shabana Azmi is on screen, I sensed a flood of emotion that I haven't felt in a movie in ages. Her voice inflections through the film, not only in one particular scene, touch a chord. Not just her, you empathize with Yogendra Tiku as her husband, Neerja's father every time he is speechless but is required to form words.
And of course, Sonam Kapoor has vowed with keeping it restrained and real. A word here for the actors who play the terrorists, though I feel that even acknowledging the terrrorists' existence is giving them too much. Well, then that is how well the actors have done. Shekhar Ravjiani – even before we watched the film, we knew that we have to see this man in bigger roles on screen, didn't we?
One could complain that the film could have been shorter making it crisper because after all it is almost two hours of being stuck in a plane. However, I would stop myself short while doing that, because it is about hijacked people who were stuck with terrorists in a plane for 16-17 hours. Remember we got breaks in the form of flashbacks. Other than that, sure, there is drama in the form of tight close-ups and use hand-held cameras. But it is not overdone. Maybe the Rajesh Khanna bit is a little over-the-top, here's hoping that Neerja Bhanot was really that big a fan.
Aside from telling a story about the events of PAN AM 73, Neerja has a lovely layer of woman empowerment sewed into the fabric of the film. This is not just about the woman's grit because she is a woman. But also about being wanted as a girl child, about her independent spirit and about her having to stand-up against labels and what was wrong. Not because she is a woman, but because she is human. And that is what is so enabling about the film's subtext. Indeed, you feel like standing up to salute her parents who instilled the values that she lived and died by.
Goodness forbid then, were we to find ourselves in a situation like this, will be remember this film and act accordingly? Even if a handful of us do and fewer stay as brave, we would have made Neerja's short life larger.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Anna MM Vetticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...It is a good thing this team chose to buck the trend, because Neerja Bhanot’s is a story worth telling and this film tells it really well. It is as if Ram Madhvani was there on that flight with Saiwyn, Sonam and the rest of them that day in 1986. It is as if Neerja’s soul resides in the film and whispers at us from the screen in those final moments. It is as if we too were there. For a filmmaker to stir up such a high degree of emotion while making no obvious attempt to manipulate us is an amazing achievement. Neerja is outstanding. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In all, paying my respectable tribute to NEERJA BHANOT with a Big SALUTE, hope the real life story of this daring young martyr inspires the entire present generation going through a difficult phase of forced division in terms of patriotism. But then ending on a lighter, positive note, would like to share the few words said by Neerja’s real mother to Sonam when she went to meet the lady as the lead actress. ... full review
Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, NEERJA is a must watch ode to the youngest recipient of the highest civilian honour Ashok Chakra for displaying extraordinary courage and human kindness. It is a film that will make you stand up for what's genuinely Right without bothering about nationality, religion, sex, cast or colour of the skin. Most importantly as a movie watching experience, you'll be glued to the movie screen with tears and admiration welling up in your eyes. NEERJA is a movie that will make you a better person. Don't miss it! ... full review
Thumbs up, by Sreeju Sudhakaran, Bollywood Life : ...Neerja’s last words to her mother in the film is a famous Rajesh Khanna dialogue about Pushpa and her tears! Even though I hate them a lot, you just can’t leave the hall with dry eyes! Aamir, you have more company in the crying club. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...The Rajesh Khanna line when Neeja’s body arrives in a coffin seems to hokey to be true. But, not to nitpick, the film leaves a lump in the throat and a sense of pride that an Indian girl could stand up to armed militants. Why did it take so long for Bollywood to pay tribute to Neerja Bhanot? ... full review
Thumbs up, by Kritika Goel , Desi Martini : ...If the film can be described in a sentence then, it is by far Sonam Kapoor’s best performance with a victorious woman’s story put together by a great director and told with utmost realism. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Smita Vyas Kumar, Desi Martini : ... Neerja is a very difficult movie to watch. You know the story, you know the end and right from the opening credits a sense of dread fills you. Her photos that are shown in the end show a lovely young woman with an infectious smile on the verge of starting her life. Your heart expands and contracts at the same time. A film that must be watched to honour a life not long but very, very large indeed. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Sarita A Tanwar, DNA : ...Neerja is 2016’s best film so far and that makes it a must watch. But more importantly, in a country where heroes are easily forgotten, this one’s for Neerja Bhanot – the bravest and boldest 23-year-old you’ve ever known. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...Neerja won't steal your heart or make you hate terrorists. It won't resort to highlighting the inefficiency of Indian and/or Pakistani governments. It doesn't over dramatize the story. It takes an emotional and mature stance about its subject. It makes you believe in the power of human beings. That ordinary people can make a difference if they try. That heroes need not be worshipped, but they need to be thanked. That just a little bit of kindness goes a long way. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Josh, fullhyd.com : ...Neerja stops being a well-made but rather distant film about a hijack and a hero, and transforms into a souvenir you'll hold close to your heart. You now have to look at it from the mother's moist eyes. You'll have to register the indescribable difficulty of never being able to see her child again. But you'll also have to comprehend her steeling up to the responsibility her daughter's sacrifice entails for her - of staying strong and spreading the inspiration. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...NEERJA, the movie, celebrates one of our own. More importantly it celebrates humanity and service before self. A brave movie! A poignant tale! A movie worth going miles to see!... full review
Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, Hindustan Times : ...Obviously then, Neerja doesn’t fit the simplistic notion of entertainment. It isn’t happy or funny. The second half is also less smooth with an unnecessary song interlude. But Neerja is a truly inspiring story that will grip you from the first frame till the last. Take a few hankies with you. This one is a genuine weeper. ... full review
Thumbs up, by RAJEEV MASAND, IBN Live : ...There are a few things, however, that don’t work. A badly placed song in the second half (even if only in the background) doesn’t serve well. Also you wish the film were tighter and crisper, particularly in the second half. The feeling that you’re being manipulated – rather than feeling genuinely invested in what’s going on – pops up a few times too. But these are minor complaints in what is evidently a well-intentioned, heartfelt film that pays tribute to a real hero. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Sohani Singh, india today : ...This is a heartbreaking watch, but never a mawkish one. As the end credits roll, audiences will fall for Neerja Bhanot's valour and also her charm. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Ananya Bhattacharya, india today : ...Vishal Khurana's music is pleasing to the ears. Jeete Hai Chal stays with one long after the film ends. The songs don't hamper the pace of the story. In all, drop everything else and go watch Neerja. This is a story that everyone needs to see. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...Sonam Kapoor is very sincere throughout and is amazingly in control in most of the scenes. In what could be undoubtedly her best performance till date, Sonam manages to turn her 'weaknesses' to work for her in this film. Shabana Azmi is brilliant. As she tries convincing herself that nothing could happen to her daughter, as she gives a heartbreaking tribute to her daughter, as she looks at her daughter's body for the last time, Azmi makes sure you are left moist-eyed throughout.... full review
Thumbs up, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...As for the direction, Ram Madhwani, who comes back to film direction after the 2002 film Let's Talk, has done a commendable job. Madhwani has not focused only on the hijack drama, but has also offered glimpses of Neerja's personal life, which makes the narrative more relatable. The section of the film once the plane is hijacked is taut, thrilling and terrific and will keep you hooked to the screen. The narrative unfolds so superbly that you end up rooting for Neerja's life, despite the knowledge of her death. The realistic way the film has been shot and presented too works in its favour as there are no unnecessary scenes or over-the-top dialogues or cringe-worthy melodrama. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Sonam is of course the lynchpin. Even when pushed well out of her comfort zone, she is completely convincing and real as the bubbly youngster with nerves of steel. Shabana Azmi informs her role with subtle nuances that add startling layers to the characterisation. Yogendra Tiku, a competent actor who rarely gets the play he deserves in Hindi cinema, conveys the welled-up emotions of a father egging her daughter on to be in control of her own life.... full review
Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Again it makes you wonder—what makes a hero sacrifice their own life for saving others? Where does so much love for humanity come from? Perhaps the film can give us some answers. Aside: This is one of the few films where the audience was moved enough to applaud together. Highly recommended! Read more at: http://www.sify.com/movies/neerja-review-as-gripping-as-it-is-poignant-review-bollywood-qctmTKaadijdj.html... full review
Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, Times of India : ...Sonam's Neerja quietly seals a place in your heart. There are no theatrics; she's dignified, strong and real. Shabana as the bereaved mother makes her grief yours, her daughter's glory also yours. Yogendra Tiku lends able support and Khalil(theatre actor, Jim Sarbh) as the maniacal terrorist is terrific. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...‘Neerja’ deserves loud applause because not only is it an exceptional story of courage but because it is an ode to the undying spirit of humanity. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Pallavi Patra, Zee News : ...Here's Sonam Kapoor's, for once in a long time, beautifully portrayed biopic of Neerja Bhanot. Board the flight, for it's safe, simply for Neerja – even if the plane goes down, you know you will remember this skinny, twenty-something undaunted air hostess for her never-ending commitment and kindness towards the passengers. ... full review
So-So, by Suparna Sharma, Deccan Chronicle : ...The film has several close-ups of her and in the ones that are on board the flight she conveys nothing because there is nothing there. It’s just a pretty face with no emotions, no feelings. A slight worry, perhaps, about the mascara and lipstick. Ms Kapoor is lucky that Neerja Bhanot’s life is extremely powerful material. It’s an emotionally explosive story and we are moved by it even before we’ve entered the hall. She’ll ride on that emotion for a while... full review
So-So, by Ameet Bhuwan, Desi Martini : ...Thankfully, good actors essaying these parts add to the charm of this lovely film. Only warning, keep them tissues handy when you go watch this one.... full review
So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...If there’s one quibble I had with Neerja—apart from a couple of moments of sentimental overreach, like the song sequence which cross-cuts between Azmi in her home and mothers on the plane comforting their children—it’s in the way it presents the hijackers. It might be asking too much in a film about Bhanot to make her killers fleshed-out characters, but the film might have gained in depth had it at least revealed a little about the terrorists’ motivations and aims (Captain Phillips, for example, gives us a glimpse of the pirates’ lives). Without the context, the hijackers are just another bunch of crazed, bearded, armed men shouting in Arabic—a stereotype Indian cinema seems to fall back on as readily as Hollywood. ... full review
So-So, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...the larger emotional swell and sentiment of the film makes one overlook things. You don’t even realise that it’s the selflessness and courage of real characters you actually end up applauding than the actors playing them. Go for it if you are in the mood for a good cry.... full review
So-So, by Karan Bali, Upper Stall : ...I, for one, am glad that films are being made on our heroes, and in spite of its flaws, I hope Neerja is still widely seen, especially by the younger generation. But as more and more biopics come out in india, I also look forward to them hopefully raising the bar in terms of filmmaking as well. For now, I stand and salute Neerja Bhanot. I only wish I could do that to the film as well. ... full review
zubinsheth96: Neerja what an outstanding movie#respect
VishalGaba: Jan 2016 was #Airlift and Feb 2016 it is #Neerja. Good times ahead for Indian cinema!
Vidurji: Neerja Bhanot & Harper Lee : Your deeds will always remain with us... remind and inspire us .... RIP
varunmv5: What a brilliant movie! A story every person need to know. Neerja Bhanot is truly inspirational. A big salute to #NeerjaBhanot #Neerja
ursamitanand: Superb movie..# Neerja
Unique_Critic_: Neerja is one of the best movie of bollywood Don't miss it #Neerja
thekarmachoden: Watched #Neerja Have never been this emotionally involved in a film before.Stellar performances @sonamakapoor @AzmiShabana
Tehmur1: Babu moshai zindagi badi honi chahiye lambi nahi @sonamakapoor what a film
Taaabish: Woke up with a Neerja hangover. Can't bring my mind & heart out of the story and performance that I saw last night,
SwatiKifayat: The girl what she believe & get the whole world love. Now she become a role model. Congratulations to @sonamakapoor for #Neerja
subhashmotwani: #Neerja - one of the best #biopics from #Bollywood , a must watch
sreenivasmedimi: Very nice & must watch movie #Neerja
souravdas_tupai: nice #Neerja
soniharshita: Watched Neerja today and it left me crying throughout the movie! @sonamakapoor
SidManchikanti: Dont miss #Neerja movie , You'il love it for sure .. Ram Madhvani take a bow
SiddhMad: #neerja awesome movie... @AzmiShabana nailed it.. Game changer for @sonamakapoor...
shubhp9701: Just watched Neerja... All I gotta say is "INSPIRED" #Neerja @sonamakapoor
shubhluvsonam: Which movie in past left us with such an impact that you wake up next morning and still thinking about it? @sonamakapoor you did it #Neerja
shripradaM: Watched NEERJA..Brilliant moviee.simply awesome.respect #NeerjaBhanot
shivani_rg: Congrats @findingshanti on #Neerja enjoyed every moment! #kindness #bravery #superhit wishes 2u2 @roo_cha :)
shietoto: One of the best movies I have seen till date #Neerja A huge shoutout to @sonamakapoor for bringing #NeerjaBhanot back to life! #fearvsneerja
ShaneemZ: Thanks to the makers of Neerja..Now she'll be remembered for ever..
samirsamir: Wow what a film!! Stunning performance from @sonamakapoor in #Neerja.. Fantastic response from press at the UK screening today. Must watch!
sameershaikh791: Awesome sonam rocks #Neerja
sadarkhan3: most beautiful movies @ sonam kapoor (neerja)
sabilaban: MAN. Stories like Neerja's makes me put my own life into perspective. What I stress out about is NOTHING compared to what she went through.
RjAbhee: #Neerja must watch. Salute to this brave soul
raunakmunot: Brilliant performance by @sonamakapoor in #Neerja. Great tribute to a brave soul.
ranigill7: #REALLY AMAZING #NEERJA VERY TOUCHING #BRAVE GIRL TO LEARN FROM MUST WATCH
rajpablo: Just caught the first show of @Neerja .. Gripping shocking wonderful .. A must watch .. @sonamkapoor simply excels
Rahulrautwrites: This is the film you should not miss at any cost. #Neerja makes us proud, encourages us to do something big, for others. Teaches d importanc
RaaghavDar: Saw a gripping hindi film after ages. #Neerja is a fantastic film. Must watch!
PuneetT75792637: Neerja a brilliant film must watch. Great acting by @sonamakapoor and @AzmiShabana . @AzmiShabana made us cry.
pray_ag: I was born after her supreme sacrifice, you ensured I see her in reel(real) doing great justice to humanity #Neerja Exemplary @sonamakapoor
praneetsamaiya: Right from d start of #Neerja #NeerjaBhanot there was pin drop silence
PragnaaAppu: #Neerja a must watch movie brilliantly acted @sonamakapoor and loved the sung #AisaKyunMaa @SunidhiChauhan5 In a whole paisa wasool
pradnyafeeling1: Nirja.....what a movie ...a true spirit of humanity ..an inspiration to all of us ..
prabhusaurabh91: Watched #neerja late night yesterday...do watch it friends....:)...amazing movie...
PinkyPrash: #Neerja | I just know this one will for sure enter my top 5 movies this year, period #mustwatch
PatelDevansh: Sometimes, the most awe-inspiring superhero movies come from real life events. #Neerja is an excellent example @sonamakapoor @atulkasbekar
nikita_lall: Kudos to the supporting cast as well. All of them were fantastic. #Neerja
neelas18: Neerja - a must and should watch movie.
MuskaanMuskan: #Neerja: A story worth telling, this is Sonam Kapoor's best performance till date.
muskaancrumble: #Neerja Amazing movie!! I don't know somebody could do something so brave!!! Wow! Salute Neerja Bhanot!! Hats off Sonam Kapoor ☺
MukeshAdvani: Every Hindustani who believes in fulfilling his/her duty towards the nation should watch film #Neerja ! Jai Hind! Vande Mataram!
MoneyByAnything: we r caring about superhero movies,dead pool,SvB,ciwil war,etc etc They r fiction, still we like them #Neerja is real life indian hero
mobollywood: #Neerja is an all engulfing emotional experience you should not miss! @sonamakapoor in a career defining performance. Full review out soon!
meetpatel_95: #Neerja was an incredible movie. A must must watch. Story of a fearless, courageous, selfless, inspiring #Hero #NeerjaBhanot @sonamakapoor
Meetluvssonam: #neerja is MASTERPIECE & More than that.
mahesh2weets: #Neerja - Go watch it.. @sonamakapoor & @AzmiShabana
lyricsmasti: Awesome Performance by @sonamakapoor as #Neerja and @AzmiShabana ji . #MustWatch
kumar_himani: #Neerja Is An Absolute Must Watch.A True Hero's Grit.
KhunshaAghaKhan: Cried throughout the movie #Neerja and every tear shed worth it! #MustWatch
khozemthathiya: Hello sonam ur NEERJA movie is just outstanding.
khandorkruti39: Awesome movie.... Brave girl Neerja Bhanot.... Lots of respect and love for her...salute you...
KavitaAChhibber: Ending a great day with Neerja. I won't comment on the film because its dedicated to a young woman who died saving many lives.
JyotiSh33265233: Neerja....a career changing pick for you #SonamKapoor ..!! Superb job done
Jwalaku06209443: NEERJA is the must watch movie. Hai sonam you are must successful actress I say.
janualways: Watched #Neerja touching, brilliant n @sonamakapoor has done amazing job. Must watch
IndraniRay: Woke up with thoughts of #Neerja's technical excellence on my mind-sound design, camera & by far one of the best edits i've seen in a while.
imsandysrk: NEERJA should win all Best direction awards this year. RAM MADHVANI
imohsin36: Watched #Neerja late night show one of the best movies in recent times @sonamakapoor delivers a performance of lifetime brilliant acting.
iAmRushMe: #Neerja is a MUST watch. Such a moving tribute to #NeerjaBhanot.I salute you.You define courage. It's unbelievable what you did. Brilliant!
HiteshKaba: Wonderful performance @sonamakapoor you portrayed the character of Neerja so well. I also got very emotional. Salute to brave Neerja Bhanot
haarisbashir1: A must watch, sonam knows how to act..yippppeeee!! #Neerja
Grtitude: #Movie #Neerja Wow
garima230: Have to say #Neerja is @sonamakapoor 's finest performance so far! Movie is so gripping and real that the tub of popcorn takes a backseat!
Farikina: Neerja was like all of us but not all of us can be like Neerja #Neerja my god, I still have a huge lump in my throat
DorjiWangchuk: Enjoyed Neerja - brilliant by @sonamakapoor
divya_1997d: Neerja was an intense and amazing film. A dedication well made by Sonam Kapoor to the brave woman herself #NeerjaBhanot
dingax1983: #Neerja was such a beautifully gripping, exhausting movie.
devilsiddy: Just watch #Neerja @sonamakapoor best performance in ur life ..truly loved it ..salute
designall123: #Neerja was a hugely brave girl and @sonamakapoor brought back to the world,HER COURAGE... very well doneTAKE A BOW #TeamNeerja WAT A MOVIE
Deexa19: #NEERJA awesome movie. I gt goosebumps and @AzmiShabana performance - will leave u emotional. @sonamakapoor - inspiring... Glorious film
deckpusher: Neerja is an awesome movie.....
curentbollynews: Audiences thumbs up for #Neerja, Film is @sonamakapoor 's best performance. A hit for sure. A must watch
crackwit: Really liked #Neerja, very well made. @sonamakapoor acted well
CoherantIndian: Neerja - A brilliant story converted into a brilliant movie. That is that best thing ever done by a human at the age of 23
balrajkat: #Neerja A good Movie, making us proud of yet another Braveheart! #FeelGood
baliSRKian: Can't get over #Neerja.Saw it yesterday and couldn't sleep the whole night. Was thinking about that brave soul. My God! Classic Cinema!Woah.
Awesome_Yuvraj: Just watched #Neerja what a film... Perfect casting, perfect screenplay in sort the Perfect Film. Amazing performance by @sonamakapoor
arif32891121: neerja#sonam kapoor# heart touching performance and inspirational story.
AnujOfficial: Above than endorsements and commercialization of Indian Cinema, a must watch movie that reminds the bravery of Neerja Bhanot.
anthropomorph: I cannot get out @AzmiShabana ji's monologue scene in Neerja & @sonamakapoor's scene reading her lovers leter on the plane outta my head!
aneeshbhatnagar: Neerja - Simple, Powerful, Engaging and Real. Not for people looking for fun. It's a serious movie.
Amr1ta: I spotted you @KaviShastri in your short and sweet role. Really lovely to see you back on the screen! :) #Neerja
AdilM7866: Saw #Neerja @sonamakapoor what an outstanding performance! This brave girl saved 359 lives well done
AbrahimAftab: #Neerja one of the best movie. Go for it you will love #SonamKapoor & #shabanaazmi . Thanks #RamMadhvani for a wonderful movie.
abhi94400360: A movie which touched everyones heart is #Neerja ..thank you @sonamakapoor for such a heartfelt movie loved every bit of it..go & watch it.
_SanjayGupta: #NEERJA A good story, a good film & great intentions of the crew make the film like a bubble in water. It always finds it's way to the top.
_mariyammalik_: #Neerja What a fantastic movie @sonamakapoor!!!!
_iAksh: Sonam's best movie NEERJA
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.