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MOVIE: NEERJA

Neerja is a biopic drama on the courageous story of Neerja Bhanot, a 23 year old girl - an air hostess - who lost her life while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on 5th September 1986. 

Release Date: 19th February 2016.

Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravijiani.

Directed by: Ram Madhvani, 

Produced by: Fox Star Studios and Bling Unplugged.

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MOVIE REVIEW ...

THE GOOD

1. The plot: Since the movie is based on a true story, obviously nothing about it is unrealistic. The heroic acts are kept pragmatic, yet awe-inspiring and heart rendering. The heroism is not blown out of proportion and the 'hero' is not given a larger than life image. 

2. The cast: You might not think of Sonam Kapoor as a good actress, but here that is not as issue. I personally loved her work in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, but here too she impresses. Not because her acting is excellent, but she really appears to not be acting- simply living Neerja Banot's life. Shabana stirs your soul as Neerja's mother. Every mother will relate to everything she says in the movie! (Pictures below, credit Neerja Movie FB Page)


3. The look: At first, you may think the shots and scenes lack high resolution clarity- that is until you realize that is probably to re-create the look and feel of the 1980s. Throughout the movie, the sets, the locations, the general ambiance take you to the India of 1980s as the movie switches back and forth between India and Karachi airport. 


THE NOT SO GOOD ..

I love it when I have nothing to write here. This is one such movie.


AND OVERALL ...

This is an ABSOLUTE MUST-WATCH movie with your kids over 12 years of age. The movie is hard to watch due to the hijack plot, no doubt, but the fact that it portrays a real story of immense courage lends it that not-to-be-missed status. Plus, go pay your tribute to Neerja Banot by know her story. You see a young woman, who fights her fears and shines in adversity. Her simple courage touch you and inspire you way more than 20 feet leaps and kicks of a typical Indian cinema's hero ever would. That is the power of biopic dramas. So glad this has become a trend in Bollywood now- thanks to which the story of Neerja has come forth, 30 years post her heroism. 

When it gets hard to watch, remember- she lived it!


So What Happened To The Hijackers ...

According to Huffpost, the four hijackers had planned to blow up themselves, and the plane, but they couldn’t do so because the lights went out after 16 hours. They were arrested and jailed in Pakistan. Their death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment because they were Palestinian Muslims fighting for their homeland. While the others escaped, the lead hijacker, Zayd Hassan Abd al-Latif Masud al-Safarini, was handed over by Pakistan to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States’ FBI, in 2001. He was taken to the US in 2004 and sentenced to jail for 160 years. Around 50 survivors of the flight, along with family members of some of those who died, had flown down from five countries to attend the trial in Washington. Safarani is said to have apologized to them "from the depth" of his heart.


So How True Are The True Events?

The flight information, its path, the route, the details of terrorists (they were Palestinians from Abu Nidal organization) are all true.

As per India Today, Neerja Banot did hid and even threw away some of the American passports down the rubbish chute as she believed that Americans were at a greater risk of being the target of the terrorists. 

Neerja Banot did assist several passengers to escape from the flight and finally did give her life while helping three kids from the bullets fired by the terrorists.

Neerja Banot did shout out the hijack code to warn the pit crew of the hijack.

The story of the passengers- the Indian American, the pregnant woman, the three kids, the radio operator, the British- are all true.

Neerja Banot received bravery award from the governments of three countries- Neerja received the Ashoka Chakra from the Indian Government, the Tamgha-e-Insaniyat from the Pakistan Government and the American Award for Justice from the US government.

However, according to Hindustan times, Nupoor Abrol, a crew member on board the same flight, says that the movie gave Neerja “undeserved adulation”. Abrol wrote on Facebook, “Yes, truly a very difficult moment. But also a difficult moment for all those flight attendants to accept the movie for what it is unfairly propagating. Neerja was a wonderful person and I think even her soul today would cringe at taking this undeserved adulation. Not fair to the FA’s who have in reality faced their ordeal!” The post was later deleted.

THE REAL VOICE OF THE REAL NEERJA BANOT...

Listen to the actual announcement made by the real Neerja Banot.. She was only 23.

(All credits for the video below- FoxStarHindi. ) 

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MORE UPDATES ...

Sonam Kapoor has been obviously touched by Neerja banot's story. She visited Neerja's high school for Republic day and has shared various tweets on her and her pictures (right), which though promotional are touching.

The movie has been made tax-free in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

As per Financial Express, the box-office collections of the movie soar to over Rs. 61 crore by day 7. 

By Sonal Kulshrestha

(Sonal is a computer programmer by profession and a writer by passion. She is an avid movie goer. She lives in Texas, USA) 

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