Boxofficeindia.com says that it opened with about 1/3rd of the seats filled, better than last year's Baby. The morning is about = to Kya Kool Hain Hum Three, and BOI expects Airlift to improve more in the evening and weekends.
Last Edit: Feb 20, 2016 21:28:15 GMT by James: URL fixed
I think Raja Sen's review has the best grasp on what the film is like, although some of the things he considers defects strike me as just neutral characteristics: this is not a thriller or a movie about a guy performing great feats of cunning or herogiri,* it's a character drama about a rather selfish man who's gotten a horrifying wakeup call and is trying to do the right thing at a lot of personal inconvenience and some personal risk, and about the people around him who also try to do the right thing. Doing the right thing, in this case, involves a lot of boring logistical stuff that the film avoids showing, probably rightly, and instead the film focuses on what's going on in everyone's hearts and minds.
Director Raja Krishna Menon is a Kerali (which is how he came to be interested in the evacuation from Kuwait, which included a lot of people from Kerala), and although I don't know if he trained in the film industry there, Airlift has a lot of the traits I associate with Malayalam cinema: it's quietly charming, it's interested in the little details of how people live and react, it has a very dry understated sense of humor, it's visually striking,** it is very emphatically not interested in loud melodrama or SHOCKING SWERVES, and inspite of showing a little bit of the horrors of war, it's fairly optimistic about human nature.
Unlike a lot of Malayalam films, it's pretty tightly edited, which is a real shock coming from the director of the somewhat leisurely Barah Aane, and also coming from producer Nikhil Advani (sorry, can't get used to calling him Nikkhil), whose films as a director are, um, not exactly noted for their frenzied pace. I remember reading that Aamir Khan and Salman Khan supposedly both got involved in editing the two films (Katti Batti and Hero) Nikhil did with their proteges, and it's possible that Airlift is the beneficiary of whatever editing wisdom they imparted to him.
Akki is really good in this. You get to see the brittle, sarcastic guy his character starts out as, you get to see him broken down by the events happening around him, and you get to see him finding some kind of relief (and expiation) in the process of trying to help the other refugees, but at some level he wants it to be about him and about what he can do for them. The character seems unenthusiastic about the possible trip through Jordan initially, in part because it isn't his idea. But when he realizes that one of his other schemes could backfire on the rest of the refugees, he goes all out on the Jordan route. It's not just about a bigshot businessman trying to do the right thing, it's about him learning humility and learning to work with others. Visually, he's presented in kind of the same way as in Special 26, where you get the impression that someone behind the cameras is kind of in awe of him as a physical specimen. I ain't complaining.
I will say that the critics who are describing Akki's performance as shockingly good either haven't been paying attention to his work in dramatic roles in the past or are trying very hard to encourage him to do more things like this. For my part, I'm not shocked by the idea that he can act, and find this to be basically a more enjoyable and polished upgrade of his previous dramatic work. Menon worked with him very closely to define the character, with Akshay being by all accounts pretty cooperative (aside from insisting on holding the script meetings around 4-6am, when he is himself at his most perky and lucid). I feel like Menon's attempts to treat the star like a serious actor, who deserved to be in the loop and to understand what this was all about, and Akshay's willingness to be that serious actor, did a lot for making the main character work.
Airlift released around the 25th anniversary of Akshay's first starring role, in a dreadful C-movie named Saugandh, and it is heartening to see how far he has come. Where he goes from here, I don't know: his career went wrong in the late 90s due to him injuring himself badly and then making the same kind of film over and over again, and then something similar happened in the late 00s (both the serious injury part and the repetitive films part). Basically, if he wants his career to survive long enough for him to age into major character roles, he needs to avoid making those mistakes a 3rd time.
The rest of the cast was also good; Nimrat had good chemistry with Akki and did well in a pretty straightforward role (loving but exasperated wife whose protectiveness of her husband ultimately outweighs her frustration with what he's doing) but just wasn't terribly exciting. I was glad to see him opposite a sort-of age-appropriate actress, but I wouldn't be happy if she turned up in every second film he made for the next few years. The supporting cast were all good; I was especially amused by the grumpy old man. I felt like the film did a good job with the Kerali characters: the Christians in particular (George, Joseph, and the woman with the rosary) felt authentic to what I have seen of this subculture in Kerali films.
The songs were pretty good and three of them worked well in context. Both Airlift and Baby did this thing where the promo of the big sentimental love song involved flashbacks with the main married couple, and then when the song appears in the movie those flashback parts are deleted and we just get one or two very mundane song snippets set in the same timeframe as the rest of the story. Contrast this with the two major picturizations from Special 26, Gore Mukde Peh and Mujhe Main Tu, which aren't all that essential to the story but at least tell us something we didn't know about the romantic leads in an entertaining and visually interesting way. Basically, you should only include songs if you can do something with them, that either suits the mood of a particular moment in the story (like the party song in the beginning of Airlift, the bhangra in the middle, or the patriotic song at the end), advances some part of the plot (the way the songs in Holiday/Thupakki are basically 90% of the romance track), or makes us understand the characters better. This isn't that hard to do; but the "respectable" section of Bollywood seems to have trouble grasping it at times, and either throws in a couple songs for merchandising purposes without picturizing them in an interesting way, or cuts them out and leaves the film feeling kind of flat. Anyway, I'm glad Airlift largely dodged that bullet and used its songs well.
Ultimately, I think this is a movie that works well on its own terms, and if you like the premise or the cast or what I've described about the overall tone sounds like your kind of thing, I can recommend it.
*he acquits himself well in the one fistfight scene that comes up, but it's made clear that he would have been doomed without outside intervention.
The two scenes that stand out for me are 1. When Amrita dishes it out to Mr George, the serial complainer - she is now on the same 'page' as Ranjit. 2. When Ranjit is being beaten and bashed by the Iraqi soldiers and the rest of the convoy come to his aid (here comes the cavalry).
Box Office India says that Airlift is doing well. Friday 11.0 crore Saturday 14.5 Sunday 17.0 Monday 10.0 First Four Days 52.5 crore, with good chances for an 80 crore weekend. Probable First Hit Of Year, which would put 2016 ahead of both 2015 and 2014.
Edit: Tuesday was the Republic Day Holiday. Airlift earned another 17 cr, giving it chances for a 90 cr. weekend!
Last Edit: Jan 27, 2016 17:46:42 GMT by dancelover
I can't stand Akshay in his horrible comedies, but we are going to go see this Sunday. I skimmed the review this as I don't want spoilers but did notice there is a fight scene. Why? I want dancing in a plane! Why is violence so acceptable but dancing is starting to be so not there. (feeling contrary this morning) Is there dancing, she asks hopefully?
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