Neerja Movie Review: A Solid Tribute To A Braveheart
A film made on a real person comes with its own baggage and on occasions, filmmakers are often tempted to make their protagonists larger-than-life, which sometimes results in adding an element of unrealism to the narrative.
However, once in a while comes a film, which excels at realism and also brings a lump to everyone's throat and Ram Madhwani's Neerja is certainly one such movie, which will be named in such a list of films.
Based on the life of Neerja Bhanot, a flight purser with Pan Am, who sacrificed her life to protect her passengers from armed terrorists during the 1986 Pan Am hijack crisis, 'Neerja' is easily one of this year's best films so far.
Starring Sonam Kapoor in the lead role, the film takes us on a journey through Neerja's personal life and her act of valour, which immortalized her in the eyes of all those who knew her.
Neerja, a model-turned-airhostess embarks on her first flight as a head purser and when the Mumbai-Karachi-USA flight gets hijacked by terrorists from the Abu Nidal organization, who want to use the hostages to secure the freedom of their incarcerated comrades, Neerja and her team of intrepid aircraft staff are the only ones to stand between the hijackers and innocent passengers.
How Neerja motivates her team to do their duty and sacrifices her life in the process is what the film deals with.
Sonam Kapoor has easily given the best performance of her career in this film and the actress manages to bring Neerja to life with her acting. Indeed, it is a treat to watch Sonam put her heart and soul in the character. Her love for her family, her insistence on doing her duty in the face of danger and her palpable fear, which helps her find courage, is quite real and touching. Shabana Azmi as Neerja's mother Rama Bhanot too does a masterful job and so does Yogendra Tiku (Kangana Ranaut's father in Queen), who plays Neerja's dad Harish Bhanot. The supporting cast too has given their best to a film, which deserved nothing less.
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.
Indeed, this tribute to a valiant woman is a must watch!