Neerja Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | U | Drama
The film is beautifully made and keeps the drama alive in the first half and then loses steam in the second half and ends on a high emotional note.
Feb 19, 2016 By Manisha Lakhe

The challenge of telling a story that has been 'news' is how well you tell the tale. The goosebumps make their appearance first when you realise that the strange men who will hijack the flight are getting ready at the same time as Neerja Bhanot - girl who will eventually save the passengers. She steps into the shower in Mumbai, they wash their ugly faces in Karachi. Her mother has made parathas for her, they have biryani delivered to them...

The director also cleverly deploys the art of quick little flashbacks throughout the movie to help us get into the head of the protagonist. Neerja, played rather competently by Sonam Kapoor surprises us with her acting chops. Considering her filmography, you dread her breaking into a mad Khoobsoorat turn. But she's so restrained you are happy she chose the role to prove her detractors wrong.

In the film, the hijacking offers more surprises. The way she informs the pilots and the subsequent action they take was information not available in news. It was so amazing to watch the events unfold that one forgot to breathe. And then you realise that it is intermission.

Trouble arises once the hijacking is established and we know that the hijackers will kill if their demands are not met. The events are scary and you wonder who dies next. You watch Neerja outwit the hijackers but when you realise that the story is not going anywhere, that there is a stalemate between the government and the hijackers, you begin feeling as antsy and frustrated as the baddest of the bad guys: Khalil.

You hope something is going to trigger off the end. But the film goes on and on and on - children need to use the bathroom, passengers need food, then they need water - without anything really happening. We don't see passengers interacting, not even praying together, or slyly planning to overpower the hijackers. The inert, scared passengers do not help the story move either.

You begin to feel as annoyed as the bad guys. Good thing is, their character arcs grow. From confident men with guns, they are now frustrated and angry and upset. They begin to fight among themselves. Even then, it falls flat because these arguments also don't seem to go anywhere.

The final act comes as relief. You know people were saved, and the young woman died right before her birthday and you feel the horror and the pain. But Bollywood melodrama rears its ugly head and we see the mom speechify all that bravery and turn it into, 'My daughter this! My daughter that!' You grit your teeth and step away but tears come when the details about Neerja Bhanot's bravery and how the world acknowledged it appear on the screen as post script. This film could have easily passed off as a History channel special, but Sonam Kapoor and the baddie Khalil make it into a movie worth a watch.

Manisha Lakhe


Shivaraj Nair

Neerja is a fairly competent recycling of real events, given an additional interest for trying to show audience that Son... Show more
Neerja is a fairly competent recycling of real events, given an additional interest for trying to show audience that Sonam Kapoor can act. Director Ram did a good job by injecting fear and thrill into a well known story. Costumes and set almost matched 1986 and technical side did their part. The terrorists were unpredictable and brutal, Jim sarbh's khaleel was the best. If you are aware of the real story that inspired this film, you may not feel the thrill. But still it manages a smooth landing