Neerja movie review: Sonam Kapoor makes us believe she is, was, Neerja

Neerja review: The question was always going to be, can Sonam Kapoor, carry off that demanding role? Answer is yes.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: February 22, 2016 2:15 pm
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The tragic story of Neerja Bhanot, who died while saving the lives of others, is full of tears and heartbreak. What we want to know, going into ‘Neerja’, the film based on the last two days of her 23 years on this earth, is : will it do justice to that pretty young woman with extraordinary courage? (Also  read: Neerja box office collections: Sonam Kapoor starrer earns Rs. 12.30 cr. in two days )

Short answer : yes.

See Pics: Neerja Review In Pics: Sonam Kapoor Carries Off The Demanding Role With ease

Director Ram Madhvani’s long overdue return (where did he go missing all these years, after his terrific debut ‘Let’s Talk’?) to the screen is invested with the urgency and the sense of impending doom which tells us just how those terror-filled hours must have been like for Neerja, who was on that hopping Pan Am flight, New Delhi-Karachi-Frankfurt-New York, celebrating her first time as chief purser.

Also read: ‘Neerja’ Sonam Kapoor pays tribute to air hostess’, later screens film for them 

She would have celebrated her 24th birthday on the 7th of September, 1986. Instead, her bullet-ridden body comes back to her devastated family, mother Rama (Shabana Azmi), father Harish (Tikku), her brothers, and the man who loves her (Shekhar Ravjiani).

Watch audience reaction to Neerja

The film slides swiftly into its stride, taking us back and forth between the early morning of the 5th of September, with Neerja (Sonam Kapoor) getting ready for the flight, with her parents up and gently fussing around her, and a terrorist cell in Karachi, packing guns and grenades and gearing up for the hijacking of the Pan Am jet from Karachi airport.

Also read: Disheartened that “Neerja” not releasing in Pakistan: Sonam Kapoor

The atmosphere of dread and violence is created well, for the most part. We see the hijackers brutally put down any hint of resistance. We see the terrified passengers cowering in their seats. We see the crew being cowed into submission, being jabbed repeatedly by AK 47s. And we see the exact moment when Neerja draws upon her memories of being defeated in a past life, and reaching out for steely resilience: most importantly, we see Kapoor do this, believably.

Listen: Neerja’s last flight announcement before Pan Am Flight 73 got hijacked 

The question was always going to be, can Kapoor, who has always played itty-bitty ditsy roles before (with patchy​ results in a string of others), carry off that demanding role?

Short answer again : yes.

See Pics: Sonam Kapoor At Neerja Screening Held For Air hostesses

Sonam Kapoor fumbles in a couple of initial phases, where we find a blankness rather than terror on her face. But those are only momentary. Then she locks onto the correct tone, and we get the whole complement of feelings flit across her face – from shaking with fear to finding a place of strength. Kapoor makes us believe she is, was, Neerja.

And that takes us past the few places which slacken. The lead terrorist is given a couple of ultra-histrionic moments. The end threatens to become too maudlin. There’s a completely superfluous song bunged right into the middle of it all : yes, we know it’s a flashback, but a song in a film like this? Can Bollywood ever get rid of this ​mistrust​ of ​its​ audience​ ? This is a film which needs to be as taut as a drum​. Why hamstring it with a song?​

Also read: Neerja: The sky was her limit

Minus the songs and the excessive schmaltz, ‘Neerja’ could have been outstanding. But still, the film holds, and hold us with it. Both Shabana Azmi and Tikku, as the parents hoping for the best and dreading the worst for their ‘Laado’ (Neerja’s ‘pet name’), are excellent. They shine a light on the tragically-cut-short life of their daughter, a true inspirational heroine whose deeds need more than a memorial. They need to be remembered.

I came out of the theatre, wet-eyed.

Neerja star cast: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tikku, Shekhar Ravjiani

Director: Ram Madhvani

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Feb 20, 2016 at 11:24 am
    The Ottomans did worse than that for eight hundred years, to their opponents in Levant, Balkans, Aegean , Caucasus . Palestinians are not trusted by their own Arab bretheren ...
    Reply
    1. K
      Kuldeep Nayyar
      Feb 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm
      It's a clean family movie which touches your heart and make u sad with tears rolling out.Must. Be seen .
      Reply
      1. M
        Manish srivastava
        Feb 28, 2016 at 4:05 am
        Great movie .. Must watch One lady to protect 360 lifes Great neerja bhanot salute him
        Reply
        1. N
          Neha Shetty
          Feb 21, 2016 at 7:22 am
          The movie a good no doubt.. But sonam kapoors accruing is atrocious. The woman couldn't act if her life depended on it. Why do directors take her... acting along side actors like shabana also dint teach her much. Every line she delivers, she has a fake accent. Any other actor could have done a better job.
          Reply
          1. P
            Pranav
            Feb 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm
            Amazing! - I got free Clash of Clans gems here! Get yous too in less than two minutes!! Everybody is already using free gems from here.(HCE478iqsU)
            Reply
            1. V
              Vic
              Feb 22, 2016 at 9:09 am
              Neerja was 22, going to be 23!
              Reply
              1. A
                Ahmed Shaikh
                Feb 20, 2016 at 7:48 am
                Allah...Rest Neerja soul to Jannat...Ameen...Mr Ram Madhvans nice direction.Natural acting by Shabanaji ....spiration film...
                Reply
                1. A
                  Amith Nair
                  Feb 19, 2016 at 11:39 am
                  Hats off..to nirjaa
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    anil kumar
                    Feb 19, 2016 at 5:59 pm
                    Well I generally hate hindi films but this was pretty good! Well done!
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Ayesha
                      Feb 21, 2016 at 10:47 pm
                      5 star for sonam
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Raj
                        Feb 19, 2016 at 2:16 pm
                        Sonam Kapoor doesnt make the cut. For a character like Neerja's someone more versatile and good at acting should have been chosen. Except for Sonam, the movie is a one time watch for sure.
                        Reply
                        1. B
                          barkesia
                          Feb 21, 2016 at 9:35 am
                          5 star
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            Mystique
                            Feb 19, 2016 at 10:17 am
                            Awesome
                            Reply
                            1. D
                              david
                              Feb 19, 2016 at 11:47 am
                              Look at this BANDRI.
                              Reply
                              1. D
                                disgusted
                                Feb 19, 2016 at 4:26 pm
                                Shubra seems to have a soft corner for plastic kapoor or maybe she cut a sweet deal!?
                                Reply
                                1. N
                                  NArayan
                                  Feb 19, 2016 at 11:56 am
                                  Does the movie mention that the US govt got 1.5Billion$ as compensation, to be disbursed to the victims, but only white Americans were compensated. none of the other nationalities got the compensation.
                                  Reply
                                  1. N
                                    NArayan
                                    Feb 19, 2016 at 10:03 am
                                    noting the build-up given to sonam kapoor in the last month...i thought they'd give 4or 5 stars.. maybe producer didn't pay this reviewer
                                    Reply
                                    1. H
                                      henry coelman
                                      Feb 22, 2016 at 2:28 am
                                      Neerja full movie HD watch here
                                      Reply
                                      1. N
                                        niranjan
                                        Feb 19, 2016 at 3:14 pm
                                        USA got $1.5 Billion as compensation for the Lokabir Air craft Mishap in UK .and not for this terrorist act of the Palastine terrorist organisation .Govt of India was also supporting palastine ..Remember Arafat Yer .
                                        Reply
                                        1. J
                                          Javid Ali
                                          Feb 20, 2016 at 6:01 am
                                          must watch blockbuster movie sonam kapoor rock*****
                                          Reply
                                          1. K
                                            Kale Mario
                                            Feb 23, 2016 at 2:03 pm
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