IBTimes India Rating: 4
It's hard imagining Sonam Kapoor without the Gucci and Armani, but after the frill was stripped off in "Neerja" one could see the hardworking, earnest performer in her.
The story of Neerja Bhanot, head purser of the ill-fated New York-bound Pan Am Flight 73 that was hijacked at the Karachi International airport, isn't just the one of bravery and courage, it is also about fear and hope.
How a regular day at work turned into a nightmare for the airhostess-model and the way she tackled the curveballs all the while shielding passengers from bullet-spraying terrorists is what the story holds for you.
Bhanot's quick-thinking and wit broke away the fright and distress the gunmen plastered everyone with. Although it was a struggle regaining composure, she put on a brave front and stood in the way of the attackers. The fate of the protagonist is sealed, and one knows how her story ends and yet you find yourself hoping for a different climax in which she would live to see her act of valour.
Director Ram Madhvani took utmost care not to over-dramatise the situations making it as real as it could get. Be it a peek into her simple life where she juggled two jobs or the horrors of her abusive arranged marriage, nothing diluted the honesty of the film.
The few, fleeting conversations between Bhanot (Sonam) and his supportive mother (Shabana Azmi) established the bond they shared and the understanding they had. But the father (Yogendra Tiku) added brightness to the happy family picture.
The almost day-long torture on 300 plus people on board was captured perfectly in Mitesh Mirchandani's camera. Not for once did it feel that the flight was a giant set and the tormented faces were only artistes. The shaky lens movements added some punch and so did the background score.
Sonam puts up a sincere act and slipped into the braveheart's shoes comfortably. It was such a welcome departure from the chick-flicks she did for the most part of her career. This could easily be termed as one (and possibly the only) of her best performances to date.
Shabana is magic and brilliance and all that's good in the world put together in one. The little gestures of warmth and kindness that she brought alive on the screen was another highlight of her performance. The tribute, in which she is more proud of her daughter than heart-broken, is the one to watch out for.
In a nutshell, keep your tissue rolls handy for the hope-instilling "Neerja."