I had been avoiding watching this movie for a while since I am not the biggest fan of Sonam Kapoor and super intense movies but when I saw it on Netflix I decided to settle in while making Christmas presents and put the movie on. I did not get much headway on the presents because I was completely absorbed by the movie.
To be honest I had not heard of Neerja Bhanot before the movie and I am embarrassed by this but so pleased that me and the world were introduced to this beautiful story. There was a lot of fanfare around the movie when it first released and I knew the gist of the story, a 23-year old young flight attendant by the name of Neerja Bhanot had bravely saved her passengers on a hijacked Pan-Am flight while risking and losing her life. I also found out that as a young girl she completed her schooling at Bombay Scottish, my Alma mater and I couldn’t be more proud to have come from the same institution.
Since I knew what the movie was about, I was waiting for the hijack moment right from the beginning.
The movie starts off with scenes going back and forth of the terrorists and Neerja. We see her, full of life, an avid Rajesh Khanna fan and the apple of her parent’s eye and we see in contrast the terrorists, preparing arms and weapons to hijack a plane and take it to Cyprus where they would demand the release of some of their ‘brothers’ in exchange for the passengers.
We see glimpses into Neerja’s past as a model, her abusive marriage to a man from Qatar and her now budding romance with Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani). We are introduced to the flight crew and some of the passengers, a completely normal bunch for any flight: some unaccompanied minors, a pregnant woman, an older lady and from the get go i just want to scream RUN, RUN for your lives.
The scenes where the terrorists interact with the passengers and flight crew are horrifying and brought tears to my eyes. The scenes were pretty graphic and showed what little abandon the terrorists had for human life. It made me hope and pray that no one ever has to encounter something as gruesome and also made me think about all the people that have and still are.
At the very end we see Neerja posthumously celebrated as a hero and all the accolades she has received, including the Ashoka Chakra. I also would like to take a moment to think about and thank all those who so bravely have stood up to terrorism and acts of terror. People like me live a safe and comfortable life because of people like you. No amount of gratitude will ever be enough.
Favorite song: Jeete Hain Chal