Khiladi

Review: Airlift’s screenplay never takes off!

In one of the only emotional scenes of this movie, a very old Punjabi grandfather character (played wonderfully by the veteran Indian TV actor Arun Bali) speaks of the horrors of getting uprooted from what you once considered home, and being forced to leave everything behind. This scene is crucial in establishing why a certain Mr. Kohli (Kumud Mishra), a paper-pusher in the External Affairs Ministry Office, turns into one of the key figures in enabling the success of an impossible rescue mission. It is sad then, that Airlift, a movie based on true events of world’s largest civil evacuation could not evoke any further emotional hooks for me as a movie audience to remain invested or engaged. And yes, it even has a mini segment where we see the tricolour being hoisted and K.K. singing Vande Mataram. And even then, I did not participate in that moment of triumph. THAT is the biggest failure of the movie.

I am not for a single bit, attempting to undermine the real heroism of the true heroes who were involved in this rescue mission of 170,000+ Indians from war-torn Kuwait. I am in fact saying that a story as incredible as this deserves a much better movie than what it got in Airlift. It is a classic case of an ambitious director meeting an “out-of-their-league” story and getting overwhelmed by it. Writer-Director Raja Krishna Menon along with his team of writers have put up a screenplay which can be the equivalent of a college play on opening rehearsal day, with a very rough first draft of a scribble on a tissue paper acting as a script.

Airlift_Poster - INTERNATIONAL

 

The narrative tries to introduce several characters into the plot – from the ever so grouchy George Kutty (Prakash Belawadi – Madras Cafe, Talvar), the unnecessary Mr. Poonawala, and the somewhat simmering and confusing love story of Ibrahim (Purab Kohli – Rock On). But none of them ever have a sub plot as such. There is no distinct payback that we as audience get from these plot threads. The trunk of the story tree is the man who is front and centre in the poster – Akshay Kumar as Ranjit Katiyal. He is the Ship Captain who is reluctantly put in charge of the fate of 170,000+ Indians. And Akshay handles it as best as he can. But the screenplay again fails him.

In one of the scenes, Akshay’s wife played by Nimrat Kaur convinces him to go to the docks – because he is a negotiator. And there is hardly anything following that scene which highlights this very characteristic of Mr. Katiyal. On the other hand, there is a scene where Akshay goes gung-ho and attacks a bunch of check-point gunned security guards, and even manages to threaten them. It seemed like Katiyal was playing Akshay for that moment, and not the other way around. We are told of Rajiv Katiyal being a businessman through and through. But in the face of such hardships, there is hardly any conversation in the movie that is scripted as one that demanded special skills. The Iraqi General played by Inaamulhaq (Filmistan), is layered in poor and generic Middle Eastern accent, and is a character written as a caricature. And hence, there is no sense of threat or perhaps, we have all seen this done way better in many other movies and TV shows.

The female lead in the movie, Nimrat Kaur seemed like one of the stereotypical naggy Indian housewife for most of the movie. She’s pretty glammed up for a woman stuck in war-torn Kuwait. But I assume, the writers felt compelled to give her something more than just that. And by virtue of that, she gets one scene which showcases glimpses of the actor we liked so much in The Lunch Box.

But my biggest complaint from this movie, is that being titled Airlift, the movie spends a total of only 2 minutes speedily narrating about the mega-operation taken up by Air India who managed to “airlift” the 170,000+ Indians from Jordan. Perhaps, that wasn’t as exciting on paper as Akshay punching dudes in sandy desert. And let’s not even get started on that cringe-worthy remix of Khaled’s Didi .

This one is not even for a lazy matinee.

 

Airlift is directed by Raja Krishna Menon and stars Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur (Homeland, The Lunchbox).

The film releases internationally on on the 22nd of January in the UK.

You can find more of Sujoy’s work on BollyPop or OneKnightStands or Follow him on twitter on @9e3K.

 

 

 

Khiladi 786 Teaser Trailer

Akshay Kumar has officially jumped ships from Slap Stick Akshay to Action Akshay and donned his Khiladi tag again after 12 years (the horrible Khiladi 420).

Partnering up with Himesh Reshammiya we get the first teaser trailer for Khiladi 786 and it proves that Rohit Shetty must be an auteur as director Ashish R. Mohan (who was 2nd unit director for Rohit on many of his big hits) seems to have straight up lifted his visual esthetic of bright colors and wire fu.

Some thoughts:

 

  • This trailer does nothing for me and leaves me completely cold as the Son of Sardar trailer did previously even though it hits all the neo masala sweet spots of thundering hero entry, non-sensical one liners, punchy dialogues followed by a pause so the junta wolf whistles and packs tons of inconsequential action.

 

  • Quite a few people feel that the danger to currently reigning box office king Salman Khan is that he starts repeating himself, I feel this much more true for Akshay who even in this trailer seems like he’s having no fun at all and is just going through the motions. He just doesn’t look as fresh and good anymore even if we do see his trademark grin. Akshay has always been a tool more than a driver of his movies and he seems to just do what’s necessary but the passion seems gone.

 

  • The trailer is solely built on revisiting Rowdy Rathode’s success and doesn’t add much more (With RR which wasn’t that great of a movie in the first place). We don’t get to see Himesh Reshammiya or Asin yet, but obviously with this being just a teaser we will at certain point as well as the soundtrack which I am not really looking forward to, even if Himesh has done some good work in the past, it’s never been great has it?

 

  • The biggest problem with wire based action is if not used sparingly, is it looses all impact in a fight sequence, this was one of my major issues with Singham and I feel it’s an art that Bollywood hasn’t mastered as well as their Southern Indian brethren.The only segment of the action that does truly work is the spinning punch Akshay delivers that finishes in a martial arts stance. (As any kid coming back from Friday prayers know, a Shalwar Kameez is totally bad ass to train kung fu in)

 

  • Is Khiladi really a franchise???

@asimburney

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