Films like Neerja make people like me proud of the fact that we’ve surrendered ourselves to the art of cinema, as for a film to consume you to an extent where you have a colossal lump in your throat, hours after coming out of the theatre speaks for its stature and artistry.
Making a biographical film is always risky and can go either ways, since you know the entire plot and specially in a country like ours where people lose interest in seconds till they are presented with some high voltage dance numbers or over-the-top one liners, for Saiwyn Quadras (The Screenwriter) and Ram Madhvani (The Director) to courageously go about the entire film with a lot of silent-handheld shots, intercuts, extremely long takes and minimal drama is applaud worthy.
The point of views might differ from person to person but for me, I haven’t seen a better Indian film in recent times. This film would’ve become dreary if any of the technical department would’ve stalled, especially the screenplay but Quadras is top-rate. It’s also one of the best edited films I’ve seen over here and it’s commendable how smartly they intercut between Neerja’s family life and the Palestinian terrorists, who prepare themselves for the hijack.
Most of our filmmakers in the past have exploited flashbacks manipulatively but over here, Madhvani and his team show us how it’s actually done. They never completely immerse you into Neerja’s failed marriage or her relationship with Jaideep (played by the multifaceted Shekhar Ravjiani) because then obviously it would change the entire direction of the film and without letting any unnecessary sympathy factor slip in, Neerja continues making you feel uneasy and proud at the same time.
I always knew Sonam Kapoor could act but I think she never took herself seriously till this film happened. Not only does she fit the part but dives into it and moulds herself as Neerja. While her contemporaries Deepika and Kangana have been showered with awards and flattery all this while, this film would definitely change Sonam’s fate and I’m sure people are now going to take her seriously. Her best performance till date and I won’t be surprised if she gets rewarded for this because you need an out-of-this-world kind of a performance to surpass Sonam’s vulnerability and composure, as Neerja.
Kanika Berry’s casting is mind-boggling, especially Jim Sarbh who plays the fiery terrorist. He shines particularly in a scene where we see his emotional outburst which to be honest is ferociously amazing and award worthy.
Yogendra Tiku, as Neerja’s father has been cast perfectly and he’s as effortless as ever. But if you have to get blown away by someone, then there’s no surprise-Shabana Azmi is the person you’re in for.
Rama Bhanot was an extremely strong headed woman and for obvious reasons, who could’ve suited her part more? Azmi’s ability to cursively get into the skin of the character she’s playing is known to all but what’s really fascinating about her is her process of reinventing herself as an actress even after so many years of being in the industry. A doting mother who tries really hard to compose herself after getting the news of the hijack of Pan Am 73, as Rama Bhanot you can feel her angst, you can feel her pain of losing her daughter and it’s definitely not pleasant to the eyes when you see the corpse of your daughter on her 23rd birthday. That scene is mostly silent and it’s Azmi’s brilliance as an actress that would pierce your heart and hit you right in the gut, followed by her monologue in the end, which is beautifully written by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh.
Many people have forgotten about the music and the background score but Vishal Khurana has truly done an exceptional job, as for me all the songs-predominantly ‘Jeete Hain Chal’ worked big time and not to forget, Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics are vividly written, adding life to the soothing melodies.
From beginning to the end, Neerja would keep you invested visually and emotionally, making you feel uneasy throughout those 120 minutes but when you’ll come out, you’ll come out with happy tears, you’ll come out remembering Neerja Bhanot-A beautiful woman who could’ve physically been present today, having saved 356 lives but she chose to save 3 more and was martyred for humanity.
Don’t think twice before going for this film, more than the money, it’s worth your time.
And you’re definitely a robot if this doesn’t make you cry.