Critics’ Verdict: ‘Neerja’ Is Outstanding, Don’t Miss It
Sonam Kapoor in <i>Neerja</i>
Sonam Kapoor in Neerja

Critics’ Verdict: ‘Neerja’ Is Outstanding, Don’t Miss It

Film: Neerja
Director: Ram Madhvani
Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravjiani

Here are excerpts from reviews of Neerja:

Neerja is almost intolerably gripping – a fact-based thriller that builds up so much tension that you’ll probably feel all knotted up by the time it’s over.Second-time director Ram Madhvani, after Let’s Talk (2002), using everything he knows to drive home his points effectively, has made a biopic very unusual in Indian films – a profoundly moving tribute to a young woman of vaulting courage. It commands your tears, without being manipulative or schmaltzy. Undoubtedly too, Neerja is intended as a political act which condemns the ongoing, despicable spectre of terrorism, without ever losing emotional contact with the audience. Sonam is such an amalgamation of heartbreaking vulnerability and steel-strong strength that you’re blown away. Do consider Neerja as compulsory viewing.
Khalid Mohamed (
Neerja not only places a woman at its centre, it also showcases the pluck of a flight attendant who makes no distinction between nationalities when her passengers face a grave threat.She goes out of her way to try and save everybody on board – Indians, Americans, Pakistanis and Brits – without any thought of the cost that she might have to pay. Director Ram Madhvani opts for just the right emotional amplitude to bring to the screen the exceptional tale of a brave fashion model and flight attendant who, hours shy of her 23rd birthday, laid down her life to save over 350 passengers. The three main actors in the cast – Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Yogendra Tiku – are on top of their game.Sonam is of course the lynchpin. Even when pushed well out of her comfort zone, she is completely convincing and real as the bubbly youngster with nerves of steel.
Saibal Chatterjee (
I wasn’t sure she could carry it off, and she proves me wrong. Sonam plays Neerja like she cares and that is all the role needs. Like Sonam, Neerja, the film is respectful to the memory of those who lost their lives and doesn’t exploit their tragic end to extract a spectacle. It’s also about a family coping with a crisis, a nightmare for anyone to know their child is in trouble yet helplessly wait and hope. Neerja isn’t always subtle in its sentimentality what with its moments of a mother (a poignant if mannered Shabana Azmi) instinctively sensing trouble or compulsively scouting for a misplaced good luck charm. And yet so heartfelt in its sympathy, I couldn’t fight those tears when her father (a terrific Yogendra Tiku) stumbles for words to comfort his wife on the phone. He is not sure if he has reason to.
Sukanya Verma (
It’s really a surprise that a film on Neerja Bhanot’s life took such a long time to be made – there couldn’t be a more heroic story than this. And the greatest part about the film is that director Ram Madhvani stays absolutely true to his subject without diluting any of the impact. Neerja is quite easily the finest film in recent times (on par with Talvar) based on a true story. A film like Neerja can usher in a new era where films based on true stories are concerned – this is how they should be made. In terms of performances, it’s a career-best portrayal by Sonam Kapoor. Neerja fits her perfectly and vice versa. Shabana Azmi is outstanding – she literally carries the film on her shoulders for the last 10 minutes. Yogendra Tikku as the father has a tough role but he makes it endearing. Shekhar Ravjiani is a revelation – he comes with good screen presence and the right notes.
Sarita Tanwar (

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