23 February 2016

Neerja : A common hero with an extraordinary courage

A woman of 23 years,who could have led a simple life,but instead chose to do something daring.She was someone ordinary,yet extraordinary.Neerja Bhanot,the name, had almost disappeared with the passing of years,until director Ram Madhvani brought her into the limelight,once again through his extremely tight gripping box office release ‘Neerja’.The story of Neerja is a story of courage which we definitely need to know.This heroic individual actually moved on this Earth, 30 years ago,and what she did in her small lifetime,makes her a role model  for all.

A girl next door. 

An ardent fan of Rajesh Khanna.

From the left, Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot, and the latter herself!

She is in love with her profession of an air hostess, and refuses to let go of the job, despite it being tedious. Her mother is an ordinary Indian household mom,who thinks life for her daughter will be comfortable if she resigns from the airline job and pursues just her modelling career. Neerja,had  a troubled past, broken arranged marriage to be precise,but that in no ways reduces her desire to lead a happy life. She is not a damsel in distress. She is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary charm. Everything seems to be perfect  in her life. Loving parents and a prince charming waiting for her to accept his proposal, to start life afresh with him. But not all stories are well written. Her story had been sealed with a curse.

Director Ram Madhvani

Had she known that the Pan Am Flight of which she was the head stewardess that day, would be hijacked, she would have definitely skipped boarding it. Future is unpredictable and so she accepted her fate and moved on.When the terrorists of the Abu Nidal Organisation, hijacked the 350 passenger plane,she was the one who informed the pilots and gave them scope to escape. She was not doing a favour, she proudly  stated, when the terrorists tried to crush her intrepidity. She was just doing her job, just like the terrorists whose job was to free their clan men. Neerja can be aptly called a beauty with brains. She not only knew how to win over anyone with her smile, but also knew how to overcome her fears and tackle a circumstance where death was just a few metres away. For the next 17 hours after the hijack, Neerja single handedly controlled the situation inside the Pan Am Flight, while the terrorists continued to create havoc.

This 122 minute thriller inspired from true incidents, perfectly showcases how the brave girl was just performing her duty and not being  a hero. From consoling the panic stricken passengers to hiding the passports of the targeted American passengers, she gathered courage from her deadly past and managed it all. Someone has rightly said –‘We learn from our pasts and write the future’. Her failed marriage, previously used to haunt her, but in this phase of life and death, when her fears were challenging her, she successfully overcame it and saved the lives of hundred innocent souls.

Director, Ram Madhvani, uses his directorial skills quite efficiently at certain aspects.He juxtaposes the lady’s past and present in the proper places. This elucidates the heroic valour of this 23 year old, girl next door. Needless to say,the hijack scenes could have been more terrifying, but this is no way lessens the intensity of the movie.

Sonam Kapoor,as Neerja Bhanot, did not fail to do justice to her character. In fact, the fright on her face when she has the gun on her head and the courage on her brow when she manages to save her passengers from the wrath of death, is commendable.

A scene from Neerja

Shabana Azmi as Rama Bhanot, Neerja’s Mother, stole the show. She is again a regular Indian mother, who is spiritual, scared and orthodox. As the movie proceeds,she soon transforms into a lionhearted lady, who does not shed a single tear when she hears that the daughter’s plane has been hijacked. She is terrified, but doesn’t show it on her face. She has a strong hope that her  brave daughter  will return. Her speech in the end, on Neerja’s first death anniversary, is sure to move the audience to tears. Musician Shekhar Ravjiani, makes an effective cameo in this film.

Rama Bhanot, Neerja's mother

Not all biopics are able to make a huge impact on the box office, but a film of this sort,having such a strong storyline, glues the viewers to their seat, not only till the last scene, but till the last credits are shown. Such is the effect of this release that it compels the entire  theatre to applaud in unison, in contrast to the general notion that Biopics turn out to be boring because facts are usually manipulated and over dramatized.

Neerja is an inspiration for any individual today. Her story doesn’t tell us to fight a war at the battlefield, or save a hijacked plane. Her story has a deep lining message. Life is a path of rocks. A travel difficult to traverse. Every day brings to us,new fears and challenges. It is only  hope and courage which will lead us to the end. Even when she dies saving the life of numerous people, she leaves a happy message for her mother.

“Pushpaa, I hate tears"

Neerja Bhanot

Neerja is an epitome of selflessness.A model of a true-spirited individual.


Rajeshwari Dutta, a voracious reader and a passionate writer is a political science freshman from St.Xaviers college, Kolkata! A die hard movie buff, Rajeshwari possesses a special passion for creativity.

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