History is a subject many Bollywood films like to play with. But the Indian film industry’s romance with history has mostly stuck to the medieval ages or great figures in history. When Hema Malini portrayed Razia Sultan in the movie by the same name, the story we saw was extended and distorted beyond proportion. Similarly was the case with Asoka, Jodha Akbar, Bhagat Singh and Mangal Pandey.
While we all may be tired with this absurd fascination of our filmmakers with fictional history (don’t worry, Bajirao Mastani is coming soon too), a recent teaser made me sit up and take notice of Bollywood, for a change. How many of us are aware that Air India entered the Guinness book of world records in 1990 for being the only civil airline that evacuated 1,70,000 Indians from Kuwait?
In August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, 1,70,000 Indians suddenly became homeless and were caught in the line of fire between Iraqi troops, who were all set to take over the country.
In 2016, Airlift, a movie starring Nimrat Kaur and Akshay Kumar will be dealing with this historical event, and for the first time, a movie is showing a true story, well substantiated with facts. I won’t say I got the feeling ‘Argo’ gave me when I saw its trailer, but nonetheless, the slate at the beginning of the teaser, stating ‘based on true events’, did send chills down my spine.
We all know about the huge evacuation scheme carried out by the Modi government in Yemen this year. A film does help people envision the momentous scale of such an evacuation, and I am happy that the Indian film industry has decided to look at a story like this, much more relevant to us now after the Yemen incident.
While we will only be able to judge the merit of the movie once it releases, I hope this trend of mixing history, politics and cinema continues in Bollywood. Airlift releases on 22nd January, 2016.