Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ram Madhvani|
|Produced by||Atul Kasbekar
Shanti Sivaram Maini
Fox Star Studios
|Written by||Saiwyn Quadras
Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh (dialogues)
|Screenplay by||Saiwyn Quadras|
|Music by||Vishal Khurana|
|Edited by||Monisha R Baldawa|
|Distributed by||Fox Star Studios|
|Budget||₹20 crore(US$3.0 million)|
|Box office||est. ₹135 crore(US$20 million)|
Neerja is a 2016 Indian Hindi-language biographical thriller film directed byRam Madhvani and written by Saiwyn Quadras and Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh. It was produced by Atul Kasbekar‘s company, Bling Unplugged, alongside Vijay Singh’s Fox Star Studios. The film features Sonam Kapoor as the title character, with Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku and Shekhar Ravjiani in supporting roles.
The plot centers on the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal Organization‘s hijacking ofPan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 September 1986. The film is shown from the point of view of the flight’s head purser, Neerja Bhanot, who thwarted the hijack attempt by alerting the pilots, thus grounding the plane; Bhanot gave her life to help save 359 of the 379 passengers and crew on board.
Development began in September 2014, when Kasbekar signed Madhvani and Kapoor for a film to be made by Bling Unplugged and Fox Star Studios. Saiwyn Quadras and Sanyuktha Chawla worked on the script, with principal photography taking place in Mumbai. The film features music by Vishal Khurana, with lyrics written by Prasoon Joshi. Neerja was released on 19 February 2016 to positive critical reception, with praise directed to Kapoor’s performance, and became one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films featuring a female protagonist.
The film opens with 22-year-old Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) arriving late for a house party. Later that evening, her mother (Shabana Azmi) expresses concern about Neerja’s job as a flight attendant, suggesting that Neerja should return to her old modeling job. Neerja, who insists on keeping her job, is driven to the airport by her boyfriend Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani).
Neerja reflects on her brief, unhappy arranged marriage to Naresh (Kavi Shastri), a professional in Doha, Qatar, who constantly abused Neerja over her dowry and inability to cook or clean. She eventually returned home for a modeling contract; however, Naresh sent back a humiliating letter attacking her parents about the dowry and lack of domestic skills, and demanding that Neerja either bring back money or not return at all. Neerja left Naresh and landed a highly competitive job with Pan Am Airways.
As Neerja boards Pan Am 73, it is revealed that the Abu Nidal Organization, a Libyan-sponsored terrorist group, has planned to hijack the plane in Karachi. The plane takes off from Mumbai’s Sahar International Airport and lands in Karachi, where the four Abu Nidal terrorists, disguised as security officers escorting a Libyan diplomat, hijack the plane. Neerja quickly alerts the cockpit, and the three American pilots escape through the overhead hatch, fleeing to the terminal under fire from the hijackers.
When an Indian American passenger inadvertently reveals himself as an American, one of the terrorists murders him and throws his body off the aircraft in front of the Pakistani negotiators. The terrorists try to locate a radio engineer among the passengers by ordering Neerja to make an announcement over the intercom. When Emran Ali (Shashi Bhushan), a Pakistani radio operator, begins to stand up, Neerja signals for him to sit down. The terrorists have the flight attendants collect all passports to identify the American passengers and hold them hostage; Neerja and her colleagues collect the passports, disposing of any American passports by throwing them down trash chutes or hiding them under seats. Dejected over not finding any American passports, the hijackers locate a British passenger and hold him hostage.
The Pakistani negotiators inadvertently reveal the name of radio engineer Ali, whom the hijackers bring to the cockpit so they can use the radio for negotiations. Meanwhile, the Pakistani authorities try to stall for time. When a younger terrorist assaults the passengers and molests the attendants, the terrorist leader chastises him; humiliated, enraged, and out of control, the younger terrorist storms into the cockpit and shoots Ali, screaming wild threats over the radio. While negotiations with the Pakistani air controllers drag on, the negotiators slowly lose control of the situation, with the hijackers becoming more agitated by the minute.
Around 17 hours later, the plane loses auxiliary power, and the lights go out inside. Despite Neerja and the other attendants’ attempts to explain, the terrorists assume the Pakistanis cut the power deliberately, and anticipate an imminent Pakistani raid on the plane. The panicking hijackers begin shooting down passengers indiscriminately; at great peril to her own life, Neerja opens the rear door and deploys the chute, directing passengers out of the plane. Choosing to let the passengers escape first, Neerja is fatally shot by the terrorists when she tries to shield young children from the gunfire. The film ends with a tribute to Neerja, who was eventually honoured posthumously with the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest military decoration awarded for peacetime valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice.
- Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot. In an interview withIBT, Kapoor describes her character and explains, “Neerja is an extremely principled girl with the most amazing characteristics. She had the presence of mind, the compassion, and the kindness to take care of other people and not herself.”
- Shabana Azmi as Rama Bhanot, Neerja’s mother
- Yogendra Tiku as Harish Bhanot, Neerja’s father
- Shekhar Ravjiani as Jaideep, Neerja’s friend
- Saad Orhaan as Saad Mallik, Inzamam’s subordinate
- Abrar Zahoor as Zayd Safirini, a terrorist
- Jim Sarbh as Khalil, a terrorist
- Ali Baldiwala as Mansoor, a terrorist
- Vikrant Singta as Fahad, a terrorist
- Kavi Shastri as Naresh, Neerja’s ex-husband
- Bobby Arora as Ayn Zoya
- Edward Sonnenblick as Capt. Jack Snipes
- Arnold Malek as Capt. Harrison James
- Waqar Khan as Co-Pilot Richard Bertrand
Neerja Soundtrack album Released 26 January 2016 Recorded 2016 Genre Feature film soundtrack Length 14:13 Label T-Series Producer Atul Kasbekar
Music rights were acquired by T-Series; the film’s music was composed by Vishal Khurana, with lyrics by Prasoon Joshi. The first song from the film, titled “Jeete Hain Chal,” was released on January 26, 2016.
No. Title Singer(s) Length 1. “Jeete Hain Chal” Free Download Kavita Seth, Arun Ingle, Mandar Apte, R.N. Iyer, Archana Gore, Mayuri Patwardhan, Pragati Mukund Joshi, Vishal Khurana 04:09 2. “Aankhein Milayenge Darr Se” Free Download K. Mohan, Neha Bhasin 02:57 3. “Gehra Ishq” Free Download Shekhar Ravjiani 03:27 4. “Aisa Kyun Maa” Free Download Sunidhi Chauhan 03:40Total length: 14:13