Neerja 2016 Movie Review

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Neerja Bhanot Movie vs Life

Neerja Bhanot was the head purser of the hijacked Pan AM flight in Karachi, Pakistan on 5.Sept.1986 who not only thwarted the hijack plan but also saved 359 lives while losing her own showing one of the most courageous examples known to the world.

But that is not all we know of her today. 30 years after her death and also after an act of immense valour and courage, Neerja Bhanot now receives the very much due recognition after being featured in a Bollywood thriller by her name. Everybody now seems to know who Neerja was. By everybody, I mean most of everybody who needed to know and not everyone who could have known. And every one of those everybody might have and can have his/her own interpretation of the character.

To me, Neerja is a human stretched to her utmost, under the challenging circumstances where the tremors of the fear fade off and proving of one paramount solitary fact becomes the prime state of mind.

Neerja’s mother confesses to have raised her daughter in a protective and self-centred environment where every girl is taught to consider her own safety over that of strangers (which is precisely what every protective species has taught his progeny for survival of the self and the ‘fittest’). Married at just 22 years of age (in 1985), she faces undue mental pressures after being arranged-ly married and shifted to Doha (Qatar) with her husband who constantly abuses her and diminutes her personality to the bismal. Resultant being a scared and weak individual who succumbs and surrenders to the situation without much courage and agrees to bend as lowly as desired to sustain the continuum of the marriage. Rather fortunately, the marriage doesn’t last long and she shifts back to her parents’ and continues her carrier in modelling and aviation as flight hostess. Yet, when she is faced with the harsh fortuity of the hijacked plane, in spite of being very terrified and jolted up from deep within, this time stretched too far in her patience, she emerges as a courageous individual wants to prove her own self (and not others) of her ability to take head on challenges , whatever may come. It’s her decision to accept this internal challenge that defines her as a ‘hero’.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are –E.E. Cummings tweet

And thence question arises: Is ‘courage’ nothing but a decision taken in the spur of a moment. That inflictive trenchant moment when a need to know one’s life’s meaning and the sole reason of his existence becomes so important that one prefers to be denuded of the restrictive overtures of the society.

 The director of the film constantly shifts the camera from present to flashback to present back again and paints visual parallel between her challenging past married life and her current situation on-board. While we may never know what exactly she was thinking at that point of time, much of my interpretation may be just a misdirected and deluded inference considering director’s window of vision and camera.

No matter what, the example of morality and level-headedness in the time of crisis and compassion for others’ lives, let alone the fortitude, at a young age of 23 deserves infinite plaudits.



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