Beauty And The Beast
The movie starts brilliantly, keeping you hooked at every turn, bringing you to the hijack of PanAm 73 quickly. The young, beautiful flight purser outwits the hijackers at every turn and when the frustration and waiting get unbearable, the beast called Jalil awakens and takes over the movie. The sagging film then comes alive again and ends on an emotional high.
Sonam Kapoor must be laughing tonight at her detractors who hoped she would do a Khoobsoorat in this movie too. She's restrained and wonderful. Really.
Now biopics can get really smarmy and the first shot of Neerja's mother filled my heart with instant dread. What was this going to be all about?
But the sight of Neerja getting ready for the flight and the hijackers getting ready to do their job is so creepy, it is an ominous reminder of what will happen when the flight lands in Karachi. The hijacking happens pretty quickly and you begin to think that these are trained professionals. They keep saying, 'Training for this day!' in many different ways...
Neerja manages to outwit the hijackers at every turn and the excitement keeps us high and glued to the edge of our seats. Then comes the dreaded word: Intermission.
There is something about the second half that is supremely dissatisfying. You want something more to happen, more than glasses of water being passed on to the passengers, packets of peanuts being handed out. You want to smell the fear that the crew is feeling. Not a single memorable passenger (the chap who claims 'I'm not Indian, I'm American!' meets a fitting end!) who stands out in that bunch. Not even to say I'm hungry or anything to help us fell less claustrophobic in that airplane...
There are four hijackers, but we don't see much of two of them. The story seems to have reached a stalemate.
Suddenly the beast awakens. Jalil! One of the hijackers seems to be suffering from cabin fever. He loses it. And all the teary eyes watch in awe as he smashes the kettle again and again.
I have found a hero who will save the movie!
Suddenly the story that was stuck inside the airplane becomes interesting. Of course Neerja saves the passengers in the ensuing chaos and loses her life. Nothing I say here will ever take away from the extraordinary bravery of the 22 year old. But when the second half of a two hour film begins to feel like the 16/18 hours the passengers spent inside that airplane, then shouldn't the film be called Jalil?
Of course Bollywood melodrama rears its ugly head when the mom goes on and on when paying tribute to her daughter, and you want to escape instead of crying buckets. But what stops you in your tracks is the post-script of how Neerja Bhanot's bravery was acknowledged by the world. You step out overwhelmed.
p.s: hated the kids. too Bollywood.