Director: Raja Menon
Writer: Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair, Raja Menon, Rahul Nangia
Stars: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Feryna Wazheir, Pawan Chopra
Runtime: 2h 10min
Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
Released: 22 Jan 2016
Synopsis: It is in this scenario that Ranjit Katyal (played by Akshay Kumar), a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman, who has always seen himself as a Kuwaiti, rather than an Indian, realizes that he no longer wields any influence on the Iraqis, and that he and his family are in as much danger as anyone else. Ranjit unknowingly becomes the man who all 170,000 Indians look up to for getting them out safely from Kuwait. Airlift is the story of Indians stranded in Kuwait during this traumatic time. A story of how they, with the help of Ranjit Katyal, managed to survive the Iraqi invasion, and against all odds traveled a thousand kilometers across the border into Amman, Jordan. From Amman, 170,000 Indians were brought home by the largest and the most successful evacuation ever attempted by any country, in the history of the world. Over 59 days, the Indian government systematically flew over 488 Air India commercial flights into a war zone to evacuate all 170,000 Indians and safely bring them back home. Airlift is an uplifting and entertaining edge-of-the-seat thriller and is the story of the biggest ever human evacuation in the history of mankind.
The film opens in Kuwait (Aug 1990) with Indian businessman Ranjit Katiyal clinching a business deal with the Emir of Kuwait. Katiyal is a ruthless businessman who will go to any lengths to make a profit. He is successful and well connected in Kuwait and Iraq. Katiyal calls himself a Kuwaiti and is generally derisive towards Indians. He has a large and well appointed mansion in Kuwait, he makes a happy home with his wife Amrita and his sweet little daughter Simu.
Late that evening he receives word that Iraq has attacked Kuwait. (He explains that Iraq and Kuwait have had tense relations: Iraq owes a large dollar debt to Kuwait and Saddam has urged the Kuwaiti establishment to reduce oil supply so prices can rise. When Kuwait refused and remained defiant Saddam ordered the attack.) At this point Katiyal believes the attack is one of the many minor border skirmishes. He asks Amrita to take the child away to London for a few days until things cool down.
The last part of the plan is arduous. Katiyal bluffs and threatens the Major to get him to let them leave. (The Major had thought he would have obtained more concessions from Katiyal.) Kohli pleads and wrangles the Indian establishment to get the Amman Embassy to issue permits. When Katiyal finally loads up the Indians and leaves he encounters hostile Iraqi soldiers who stop him at a border checkpoint and threaten to rape Amrita. Katiyal fights them off when he finds the Indian contingent right behind him. The Iraqi soldier drops his weapons and lets them pass. They all arrive in Jordan and the Amman Embassy receives word in the nick of time to let them leave for India. Kohli has successfully negotiated safe passage of all the Indians. Air India supplies the planes and the pilots, previously unwilling to fly over war zones, have had a change of heart towards their brethren. The Indian tricolor is hoisted over the Jordan airport.
The film ends as the Indians salute Katiyal as they board the planes that will take them home.