Those of you who know me know that I don’t watch a lot of Hindi movies.
Its not because of any racism or la-di-dahness; I hardly watch any Bengali movies and only watch a handful of English movies – usually the superhero ones and the animation ones.
You see most movies follow a same/similar template, so see one, see them all.
That’s especially true of the normal Bollywood fare.
And that’s why I usually end up watching one or at the most two Bollywood movies every year. Stuff which are different than the normal boring “thor bori khara”.
In the last 10 years, I have watched A Wednesday, Bhool Bhulaiya, Khosla ka Ghosla, Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2, Kaminey, Ghajini, Delhi Belly, Sarkar 1 and 2, and Detective Byomkesh Bakshi.
A Wednesday remains my favorite Hindi movie (what absolutely fantastic acting by the two maestros, its a privilege watching them)
I have also sadly, due to my friends insistence, watched some absolute garbage like Singh is King, Tashan and a god awful film whose name I have forgotten (there were multiple heroes, Pankaj Kapoor played the villain)
So as you can see, my average is around 1.5 a year.
Last year, I saw Detective Byomkesh Bakshi – and liked it.
It was time to watch another.
The people told me to watch Bajirao Mastani. When I first heard of it, I was very interested. But then I heard that the director is Sanjay Leela Bhansali. My enthusiasm evaporated like Scooby Doo’s courage in a haunted house.
I knew he was going to turn one of India’s greatest warriors into a romantic lovey dovey guy and I wasn’t wrong.
That’s not a movie for me.
And then I heard of Airlift.
Based on actual recorded Indian history – one of the few positive Indian historical vents from the last century; a celebration of our achievement and glory.
And so, since both TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet told me to go check out Raj Mandir Cinema in Jaipur, I went there and saw Airlift.
The theater is wonderful.
The movie is good, but did it really have to be so Bollywood?
Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, East Bengal’s gotta bribe the referee, Gudduda’s gotta Devdas and Bollywood’s gotta cliche.
As Darth Vader would say, “The Cliches are strong in this one”
- People coming under the flag and watching misty-eyed while it unfurls and flutters in the wind (nothing really wrong in it, but as a trope, it has been done to death)
- The Oscar Schindler transformation; you know where a hard man obsessed with money suddenly turns into a savior and a messiah of the masses
- The nagging wife who eats humble pie and refalls in love
- The comedy foreigner
- The cliched cartoonish South Indian
- Boy saves girl’s life – cliched loving longing looks ahoy
Apart from these, we have the standard movie tropes of
- Fragrant disregard of history in favour of added masala – the film shows that the invasion forces were full of teenagers and conscripts; in actual history it was carried out by four elite Iraqi Republican Guard divisions (1st Hammurabi Armoured Division, 2nd al-Medinah al-Munawera Armoured Division, 3rd Tawakalna ala-Allah Mechanized Infantry Division and 4th Nebuchadnezzar Motorized Infantry Division) and Iraqi Army special forces units equivalent to a full division. The main thrust was conducted by the commandos deployed by helicopters and boats to attack Kuwait City, while the other divisions seized the airports and two airbases.
- Not enough dues to the actual people on whom the film is based
- Plot holes
- The absolutely unnecessary item number at the beginning
The movie wasn’t garbage by any stretch of the imagination. But it feels like such a wasted opportunity.
The story was already ready made. Its one of the most gripping and suspense filled story ever, no masala was needed, it was handed to Bollywood on a platter.
The casting was great, all good actors.
And yet, the result was all so underwhelming
Such a shame.