Neerja: More Than Just a Hijack Story

Title: Neerja

Directed by: Ram Madhvani

Produced by: Shanti Sivaram Maini and Atul Kasbekar

Written by: Saiwyn Quadras and Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh

Starring: Sonam Kapoor and Shabana Azmi in major roles

Music by: Songs: Vishal Khurana

Production Company: Bling Unplugged and Fox Star Studios

Release date: 19th February, 2016

Language: Hindi

Genre: Biopic


By now, hopefully, everyone knows who Neerja Bhanot was. It is a pity, that we needs movies boasting of A-list actors to know about these tales of heroism. So, like every other girl, Neerja had ambitions to work for, a past to learn from and a family to love. She was a model and an air hostess with Pan Am. One such flight from Bombay to New York, via Karachi and Frankfurt was hijacked. She died a brave death, saving hundreds of people.

From the first scene of the movie to the last one, Neerja keeps you gripped. You want to watch more of this story of heroism, of love, of hatred and of passion. You would want the passengers and crew on the hijacked plane to get out and be safe, but you would not want the movie to end. There is no single second in the film when you would want to check your messages or make a call.


Speaking of the story and direction first, Ram Madhvani has beautifully captured and presented before us Neerja’s tale of courage. As mentioned above, not for a single moment his vision will bore you. His choice for Neerja and Rama Bhanot’s roles (Sonam Kapoor and Shabana Azmi respectively) is on-point, which work very well for the movie. The thing that I liked the most about Neerja is that it is not just another story of a plane hijack. It is much more than that. It is a story about love, between Neerja and Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani), broken marriages, understanding parents, brotherhood, devotion and trust in the Almighty and above all, Neerja is a story about mother-daughter relationship. Madhvani shows each one of these aspects, and many more. About the direction I’d just say Madhvani knows his art. From showing the hijack’s planning, to executing it, to making all the efforts futile, everything is there. The anger in the eyes of the hijackers, terror in the eyes of everyone on the plane and courage in Neerja’s are to watch out for. Madhvani has not only focused on the characters of Neerja, Rama Bhanot and the hijackers, but he has paid grave attention to the characters of even those passangers who just sit and get scared.


Madhvani’s Neerja, Sonam Kapoor proves that she is not only meant to wear beautiful outfits at Cannes, but for the screen as well. As wild as I can imagine, I can think of no one (looks wise) to play the character of Neerja. I’ve seen and read various of Sonam’s interviews in which she has been again and again saying that she worked real hard for Neerja. All the hard work is seen on the screen. The fear that she has in her personal life and when the plane was hijacked, and the courage she shows in both instances are carried out by Sonam in an efficient manner. Honestly, after seeing all of Sonam’s works, I was a bit disappointed when I read that a movie on Neerja Bhanot is being made and Sonam is casted in it. But when I saw the trailer my expectations from Sonam (out of everyone) increased ten folds. And today when I saw the movie, I realised that she has so much potential, only that, due to any reason, it hadn’t come out yet. Anyway, now she is here (hopefully)! Though Sonam does not dominate the screen time, which is what the story demands as it is important to show the other aspects too, she rules in this one! The tear of grief rolling down her cheeks, the anticipation of never being able to see her mother, family for that matter, the duty to save the passengers on board and the greater duty of doing her duty as an air hostess, all seem real. She does nothing too less, nothing too much, just what is required. And because she plays an air hostess, her accent doesn’t trouble at all. I never thought I’d say this, but, if nothing, watch Neerja for Sonam!

Shabana Azmi, as Rama Bhanot, Neerja’s mother is flawless. I don’t think actors like her need to be reviewed. They always do it so well and with so much ease. It’s like they just speak and it happens. So, Azmi plays Neerja’s mother, who is such a happy, positive, easy person all throughout. Even when her husband calls her to tell her that Neerja’s plane has been hijacked, she knows that Neerja will eventually be safe. She has the heart of a mother, and hence, till the end of the movie, she doesn’t believe that Neerja is dead. The happiness on Azmi’s face when Neerja is around, tension when she is in the plane and the emptiness when Neerja is dead is a treat for the eyes. Because she is a mother, you expect her to drop the phone, fall on the floor and cry till death after the phone call, but she doesn’t. And that is beautiful!

Supporting actors and actors having special appearances, all those playing Jaideep, Neerja’s family, the passengers and the terrorists, et cetra, also do their job pretty well, which is very very nice as it all seems natural.

But the best element in the movie was the mother-daughter bond between Sonam Kapoor and Shabana Azmi. Neerja, as the title says, isn’t just a story about a plane hijack, but primarily about the emotions shared between a mother and a daughter, and both these ladies, under Madhvani, portray the beautiful relationship with such grace. Shabana Azmi staying awake till one in the night to wake Sonam Kapoor up, she combing Neerja’s hair, running after her to feed her curd and sugar, handing her her dabba and then praying for her safe return is something your mother does daily, but you just don’t realise. When Sonam is on her flight and she remembers her mother and starts crying, that moment is presious to the core! When Rama Ji gets to know of the hijack, she is pretty cool about it, because she has faith in her daughter, and also in God. She knows nothing will happen to her daughter. In Azmi’s monologue (monologues are my favourite) she expresses her love for her daughter, the nation’s love for her and the message she has left behind with so much pride, that it hurts!


Lastly, the songs. Not one song doesn’t have a purpose. There is no grand song, with dancers in the background. Just, subtle melody here and there. Throughout the movie, only two songs are played, that too not the whole song, Gehra Ishq and Aisa Kyu Maa. And then there is Jeete Hai Chal in the end. The lyrics of all the songs are too good, and voices too perfect. Aisa Kyu Ma, specially is beautiful, explaining everything that a child, who stays away from his/her mother experiences, and to add to it, it has been sung by Sunidhi Chauhan!


My rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: All the above images have been taken from Google. None of them have been created/clicked by me.

#KundanSpeaks celebrates the spirit of Neerja Bhanot!


2 thoughts on “Neerja: More Than Just a Hijack Story

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