5th September, 1986, Karachi. First thing that struck me is the 5th September, Teacher’s Day, then 1986…I was 8 yrears old, then Karachi…an uneasy feeling with an willing heart to feel bigger. Neerja, the movie made my husband uncommonly emotional. I have a tendency to cry on little emotional issues, so this movie made me cry a lot and it is no exception. But Arindam, my strong better half, who handles lots of critical professional issues and hundreds of emotional crisises with patience and practicality, was sitting quiet with wet eyes beside me. Yes, Neerja, is very much an Indian movie with an universal dimension, with a humitarian approach. A movie which does not teach whether I am an Indian or a woman… It shows what a real human being means.
The story of the movie begins very intelligently: two parallel flow of incidents, one in Mumbai and the other in Karachi, are presented so specifically that it puts the audience in the right tune from the very beginning. This is also very symbolic: two different cities, two different lives, two different attitude to life, still praying at the same time faithfully : one constructive and the other destructive. Sonam kapoor proved her maturity as an actress. Her entrance reminds me of Jaya Bachhan in MILI , an innocent smile with a friendly gesture, a lively company…vibrant, full of positive energy
. This is the spirit which the script writer has consciously woven into the texture of this movie. Usually,biographical movies show this positive energy wrestling with potholes of life, learning and winning ( llike Chak De India, Milkha Sing etc). But here she has a tragic past not very uncommon in Indian society but it has enriched her with psychological strength, self-respect. Neerja is probably the girl whom we know very well but again we don’t know actually. Neerja, a girl of 23 years, gained the power to
keep her calm while confronting the terrorists and succeeded in saving all her colleagues and almost all the passengers . The speech of Rama Bhunot, her mother, after receiving the Ashoka Chakra on behalf of Neerja, is the finest piece of this movie. Really, girls are taught to be patient, submissive and caring.Brothers are honoured with Rakhsha Bandhan to save their sisters. But how does Neerja come with a completely different spirit? Probably, her mother’s education was right…she was caring; she took care of her responsibility as a purser; she took care of her colleagues as the captain of a team; she took care of all the passengers at her best level; she took care of her love ( enjoyed every particle of the cookie jaideep gave); she took care of her mother even while writhing in the hands of death ( Puspa, I hate tears)… actually she became humanity incarnated.
Shabana Azmi, Sonam Kapoor are just outstanding. Shekhar Ravjiani, as Khalil,a terrorist is really appreciable. Music, Camera, Screen Play, sound ( sound effect within the plane is excellent)… flawless. Thanks to the Producer, Atul Kasbekar and Director, Ram Madhbani for this biographical thriller, for letting us know our pride who was smiling at the oblivious corner of history and was saying, ” Babumoshai, zindegi lombi nehi, badi hone chahiye.” Who else can be a better teacher than Neerja at this juncture of doldrum?