Airlift: Part 4! The Ending! All the Way to the Finale! Complete! (Spoilers Are Here)

So, Airlift!  It took me 2 hours to watch it in the theaters and three days (so far) to describe it in print.  I have many many many thoughts.  This is not, like, the funnest summary I have written (if you want that, check out my almost completed Baazigar), but it is one that challenges me to have lots of interesting thoughts.  Because it is a film that was thoughtfully made.

Anyway, to finally get to the triumphal ending, Read On!

(part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here

I left off with a check in on Kohli in India, who is becoming increasingly committed to rescuing these people, and just got the go ahead from the Minister of his department to try and handle it on the bureaucratic level rather than involving politicians who have elections to worry about.  So Kohli is going to explore getting permission to get them into Jordan.

Meanwhile, back in Kuwait, Akshay has found a garbage scow that is willing to take 500 people, at $200 each.  Poonewala (with the college age daughter) and complainer George are standing below watching a conference going on in a room above.  George refers to the mighty people who are meeting while those below can only watch.  In the room above, Akshay is telling them that he has gathered everyone who can afford it to offer them these spaces.  He thinks it is a good deal, but he leaves it up to them as to whether they will take it.  Left unspoken is that it is a bigger issue than just trusting the boat captain, there is also the moral question of escaping first just because of their wealth.

I think this is a pretty obvious moral quandary.  As in, IT’S WRONG.  I don’t hate the characters for taking the option, but it is wrong.  It should be a matter of the group donating the money and letting the small children and their primary caregivers be the ones who get on the boat.  Duh!  Less obvious than the answer to this moral question, is the whole purpose of the garbage scow as a narrative time killer.  Which is what it is.  It’s not an ultimate solution, it is just a temporary solution, but it gives us a neat little victory in the middle while we mark time in Kuwait waiting for Kohli in India to work things out.  In a more traditional Indian film, we would take a break here and explore Ibrahim’s love story.  Or maybe those teenagers who were looking at each other during the Bhangra celebration.  Or, like, spend fifteen minutes learning why complainer George is such a complainer.  Or, heck, Johnny Lever!  But this film is so goal oriented, it has no time for a subplot unrelated to the ultimate purpose of getting out of Kuwait.  So it created a minor victory on towards that same goal instead of inserting a different plot line.

(here, have a randomly inserted Johnny Lever, just to make this feel more Indian)

But first, they have to actually get safely on buses and to the docks.  One of Akshay’s businessman friends is going on the bus, and Akshay gives the driver’s widow and daughter into his keeping.  The other one is staying back.  This is never mentioned or discussed, and I like it like that.  Akshay said they all have to think about whether they want this chance, presumably his friend had some reason, moral or otherwise, not to take it.  Complainer George complains about others getting away, and Akshay doesn’t really address it (again, addressing complaints among his followers is not his strong suit), but just says it was the best he could figure out for now, and I think his assistant is the one to point out that Akshay could certainly have left also, but he chooses not to.  And that he went all the way to Baghdad for them, George is afraid to even go one block!  (or maybe that line was earlier?  Anyway, I remember it now because we are about to see why it is so terrifying to be out).

The buses crawl through Kuwait, past dark areas with scavengers.  At one point, a group of army trucks rolls towards them and they pull the bus over and crouch down behind their seats.  It is very stressful.  For them.  I was briefly distracted from my stress by admiring how neatly they pulled the bus over and parked it perfectly between two abandoned vehicles.  I can barely parallel park my car!  Let alone a massive bus in the middle of a war zone!

We leave them, and instead check in with Akshay and his family.  Remember at the beginning how the nanny was feeding the daughter dinner while she watched cartoons, her Mom was dressing for a party, and her Dad was still at work?  Now, the nanny has disappeared (where?), presumably Nimrat made dinner herself, and they are all sitting down around the table as a family.  When they are interrupted by a knock on the door, and it is scary general guy!  They offer him dinner, of course, as a friend of the family.  He agrees, but tells them he is hurt, he has come to personally tell them that he knows about the buses and the garbage scow, and of course he can’t allow it.

This scene is really well-framed by the way.  Which reminds me, I haven’t spent as much time talking about the detailed visuals of this movie as I usually do.  Because they are less memorable.  That isn’t good or bad, it’s just a different kind of film.  Even in a movie like Wazir, part of the film was the plot and the character goals, but part of it was the pure beauty of the images.  In this, it is all character and all plot, and the images aren’t allowed to distract from it.  I am sure the director could create a beautiful picture if he wanted to (a couple of the flashbacks in the love song are quite nice), but in this movie he is more focused on building a world than on making us gasp at the beauty of it.

(this isn’t a fan made collage, within the song sequence he breaks the flashback into multiple moving frames.  It’s pretty, right?)

But this scene is nice.  Not beautiful, but striking.  On the left hand of the screen is something, I think a chest of drawers or a buffet table, with a big picture over it.  Top center is a large window with curtains.  In front is the dining room table with a cheap looking tablecloth and plain dishes on it, overflowing with food.  Evil General is sitting at the head of the table in the center of the screen, with Nimrat standing to his right, and on the other side of her is Akshay, also seated.  The whole space looks messy and cluttered and off balance, a mixture of fancy (big fancy gold curtains on the window) and cheap (basic dishes on the table).  It tells you right away how their household is in flux.  They still have the nice stuff, but they aren’t using it any more.  They are crowding into the one semi-decent room in the house.  Suddenly, food has become the center of their lives, as it is more and more rare, and therefore the food dishes are at the center of this scene.

And the General and Akshay are about to have a verbal duel and their positions show their attitudes.  The General is at the head of the table, in fact, takes the head of the table.  He needs to have even that little bit of proof of his status.  Akshay sits to the side and lower in his chair, relaxed.  Again, he isn’t confronting him directly, because that wouldn’t work, he is coming at it from the side.  Literally.  And Nimrat is standing in the back, observing, ready to flee, representing all the other people Akshay is responsible for who are similar braced for disaster but forcing themselves to wait for his decisions.

Oh right, the actual content of the scene!  The Evil General tells Akshay that he Knows All.  But, he will let the people go, if Akshay pays him personally the same amount that the ship captain (I wrote “hip captain” at first, which would be a whole different kind of movie.  A lot more beatniks) got.  Akshay pretends to consider it, but points out that would put in danger the deal he has in place with the top guy in Baghdad who he previously spoke with.  The General doesn’t believe him.  Akshay doesn’t push it, stays leaning comfortably in his chair to the side and lets it go, like he doesn’t even care if he is believed.  This throws the General off balance, he leans forward towards Akshay, away from the center of the table, and tries to start an argument, to make Akshay prove it, challenges Akshay to actually call Baghdad and confirm it.  Akshay continues to be lower (in the frame and in attitude) and agrees to make the call.  General picks up the phone and dials, gets through to the office, hands the phone to Akshay, but at the last minute can’t keep it up and hangs up the phone.  Akshay wins.

(hip captain)

Through out this scene, by the way, we keep cutting back to the docks where we see the buses being held at bay by soldiers.  Just to underline that the low key confrontation in the family dining room has real life and death consequences.  But this also brings up a consistent problem I have with this film.  Well, not a problem, but a consistent question I force myself to ignore.  Several times we are given numbers, like 170,000 Indians in Kuwait, or the 500 going to the boat now, and the number of people we actually see just doesn’t match that.  Which is fine, those numbers are just too big for a movie audience to relate to, we need maybe half a dozen named characters and a few hundred extras, that we can conceive of.  170,000 is just too much, it becomes numbers instead of people.  But it does make it hard when they say specifically “500” and then we look at what is definitely not 500 people.

After this scene, Akshay and his wife are getting ready for bed, and she asks him why he didn’t tell her about the side deal with Baghdad, at which point he says there was no deal.  Which I was pretty sure of already, but you always need that “It was all a bluff!” gasp from someone to underline the chutzpah of the bluff.  Speaking of underlining, this is also the most blatant “return to our Indian values” moments.  Akshay points out that his wife could have left tonight, on the boat.  And she responds “You have forgotten your Punjabi.  [In Punjabi, presumably a saying] a wife should always stay with her husband.”  We get it!  They are now, finally, back to being a traditional Indian husband and wife as adversity has driven them back to a higher meaning in life.  I mean, that has been the arch all along, it’s just this one scene that handles it a little bluntly.

Oh, and because of the whole “had to tell an obvious lie, scary General is clearly running out of patience” thing, Akshay calls Kohli in India and tells him that they are leaving for Jordan now, and it is up to him to figure it out.  We are now starting, finally, to get the Kuwait and India tracks moving at the same speed and in the same direction.  Which, I think, is a purposeful narrative choice.  Until now there has been a disconnect with the lowkey attitude in India and the desperate situation in Kuwait.  It was jolting to go from Akshay back to Kohli, but it was supposed to be jolting, to indicate how hard it was to get India moving at the same speed and with the same urgency as Kuwait.

But Kohli is finally moving!  With this last phone call, he gets in touch with the Air Administration bureaucrat (remember at the end of the last section, it was decided that all this would be handled at the lower level so the ministers would have deniability).  He is all for setting up flights from India to Jordan, but they don’t have the planes or manpower available.  However, he has been talking to Air India, and it is possible that they may be willing to help. But they would need to get their pilots to volunteer for it.

(Air India!  Your choice for mass evacuations, and also cute hallucination love songs)

Which leads to one of the most on the nose scenes of the film.  Kohli is talking to a room of Air India pilots, who say that they are not in the air force, why should they fly into a war zone?  By the way, once again, the number of people in the room makes sense for a sort of mentally manageable number of people for an audience to follow at once.  But it doesn’t make sense for the 488 flights that were eventually flown.  Maybe each of the pilots flew a whole bunch of times?  Or else this is like the representatives from the pilot’s union?  Anyway, I’m over-thinking it, it doesn’t matter, and if it had been an accurate stadium sized audience, the impact would have been lessened.

The important thing is Kohli’s speech.  The Air Administrator stars off by explaining what is happening, but when the pilots push back against the plan, Kohli steps in and offers “We can’t force you to do this, you have to volunteer.  And I can’t give you a good reason to do it.  But people need you and they are on their way now, so I suggest you find your own reason.”  So philosophically interesting!  It’s a combination of individualism and responsibility that I don’t think I’ve heard before in an Indian film.  On the one hand, these pilots are part of a private commercial company which is volunteering to work with the Indian administration.  More over, the pilots themselves are being asked to personally volunteer, there is no pressure on them.  But the message is, even on this very personal level, you should feel a responsibility for your own personal reasons to the larger society.  It’s very American, actually.  Or, capitalist, I guess.  The opposite of socialist, is what I’m getting at.  Everyone is free and individual with no obligation towards the State.  But, as a free individual, you should make a choice to help others.  This is the kind of thinking that leads to charitable donation write offs on your tax forms, basically (I’m in the middle of doing my taxes right now).  That an individual has a responsibility to others, but has a right to choose for themselves how and why they will fulfill that responsibility.  Very radical for Indian society.  I’m not sure if it is better or worse than the previous messages of responsibility only towards family or against enemies, and ultimate loyalty towards the state, but it is definitely different.

So, we are going to Jordan!  Although Jordan may not even be ready for them yet, you see Kohli and the Air Administration guy talking in a hallway after they leave the meeting, the Air Administration guy agrees to work on getting funding from finance, while Kohli will work on getting the Jordan embassy to issue everyone temporary passports.  Again, there is a nice implication that there are other things happening, even if we never see them in detail (this is the last we hear of the finance issue, presumably Air Administration guy had his own epic quest but we aren’t happening to follow that in this film).

But Akshay doesn’t care!  He has gathered his main group of guys, including Ibrahim, and is telling them that they are going to Jordan.  He needs them to go out onto the streets and scavenge as many cars and car parts as they can.  We briefly see this, in dark light, them going into abandoned cars and taking out batteries and gas tanks.  Through out the film actually we have been seeing these abandoned cars.  It’s a nice touch, a quiet way of reminding us of all the people whose lives stopped as suddenly as their cars, especially as we are viewing them through our own moving cars.  And now our group has reached such a point of desperation that they have no compunction about scavenging these abandoned cars.

Once the cars are scavenged, it is time to plan the convoy.  The plan is to have 5 groups leave, each a combination of buses and cars, and there is a moment of confirmation that a group of young men will be in every bus and at least one per car.  There’s no discussion beyond that confirmation, which I very much appreciated.  No need to underline for the audience why there might need to be a fighting age man with every group of women and children and elderly, and the implication that it is so much in the forefront of everyone’s minds that there is no need for further explanation between them.

(Convoy!)

However, before we pull out, George notices that the possibly Kuwaiti woman and child are sitting on his bus, directly behind him.  His wife tells him not to bother about it, but of course it is George, so of course he bothers.  He gets off the bus and tracks down Akshay, confronting him about a Kuwaiti woman who was snuck into their compound, who is just a “sponsor” of the young desi woman she is traveling with.  And Akshay’s response is “oh her?  Yeah, of course I know!”  Which I love!  It’s the ultimate in the many many “we don’t bother to show you this, but we assume you are guessing that it is being taken care of” moments in the film.  Of course Akshay knows!  He doesn’t need to give a big speech about it or have a conversation, he just noticed it and made a decision about it on his own without any need to involve anyone else.

I am also really interested in George’s assumption that the woman is a “sponsor” of the girl with her, not just a friend or neighbor (which was actually my assumption until now).  The girl is young, an older teenager maybe, and the woman has a baby.  Presumably she was brought on as household staff to help care for the baby.  It changes how I look at their relationship, but I like it!  In certain households, which this one apparently was, the relationship between the two caregivers for a young child, even if one of them is technically a servant, can be intensely close.  And if the mother is comfortable in the Indian refugee community, that is, sharing a room and working in the kitchen and so on, presumably it was a middle class family, not the sort of uber-wealthy group we have seen.  So we have a message of mutual support across not just ethnic but class lines, where the servant and the “sponsor” were actually so similar and built such a close tie, that the servant voluntarily risked her life to bring the sponsor and the sponsor’s child to safety.

But George actually had a good point, what is the good of a bus filled with Indian refugees if there is one Kuwaiti along who ruins their independent status and gets them all killed?  Akshay agrees also, and goes onto the bus to drag the woman out.  Some of the other people on the bus react with mild disapproval, indicating that they also are aware of her status but until now had no need to acknowledge it.  But Akshay takes her, and the child, and puts them in his own car, risking his own safety and the safety of his family instead of that of the wider community.  Interesting!  Individualism!  But also, you must choose to take on the responsibility, it was correct that society as a whole (represented by the bus folk) should not be forced to share the danger against their will.

And, we’re driving!  And I think there is a driving song?  Because there is always a driving song.  Oh that’s right!  It is the love song again from the female perspective.  Because Nimrat is all in love with him again after seeing him volunteer to risk his life by putting a cuckoo in their nest.  This really doesn’t make sense to me in terms of character development.  I mean, I get it in general, nobility and self-sacrifice is super-ooper sexy, we all know this.  But for Nimrat in particular, her character has had this odd arch of wanting her husband to spend more time with her family and resenting his self-sacrifice, to wanting outsiders to appreciate the sacrifice, to deciding that it is best for her and the family if they just stick together no matter what, but now it is risking his life and his family’s lives that really really gets her going?  Up to now I could kind of see it, if her primary force has always been “family first”, then she would want the outsiders to see his sacrifice since it is also her sacrifice of his family time, and then even the “I have remembered my Punjabi” speech kind of makes sense, if she has just decided that her family focus should switch to being completely loyal to her husband, but why does she love him more for bringing someone new into that family bubble?

Oh, who cares!  The movie is almost over, and we get a pretty song to keep us company while we drive!  It’s an interesting visual with the driving too, this ramshackle group of cars with things tied on them escorting massive buses through the desert.  And very evocative of everything from Mad Max to wagon trains.  Or, in the Indian context the partition refugees.  And again, the numbers don’t make any sense, this is clearly 1,700 people at the most, and yet we keep hearing 170,000.  But I am going to try not to worry about that!

(Like this, but less romantic)

The convoy slowly comes to a stop, when they see an Iraqi patrol with a broken down truck stopped in the middle of the road.  I like this, it’s not a roadblock or anything official, it is just a random stumbling across some low level soldiers, which could ruin everything.  Akshay’s car is in front, which a very nice low key heroic moment, to have him volunteer to take the lead and the majority of the risks, and an acknowledgement that as the best communicator, he should be the one to talk through these moments.  But also, maybe the lead car shouldn’t be the one with the Kuwaitis hidden in it?

Anyway, we have a nice parallel of the scene at the beginning with the death of his driver.  Again, Akshay gets out of the car and tells everyone else to stay inside.  But while that time it was because he didn’t trust his driver or think him capable, and he selfishly wanted to achieve his own goals without input from others, this time he is taking on the responsibility nobody else wants even to the point of forbidding them to help him.  And just like the first time, it backfires.  Akshay tries to convince the soldiers that they are Indians, but he doesn’t want to show his passport.  And then the soldiers are holding him down, and Nimrat can’t bare (bear?) it and jumps out of the car with the passports.  Only, duh, there is no passport for the Kuwaiti woman and child.  The soldiers drag her out of the car and hold a gun to her head, and are already holding Nimrat.  Akshay keeps trying to talk them down, then they shoot at him, the gun misfires, and for the first time in the film, Akshay actually uses violence.

In some ways, this is such a classic Akshay moment.  The fight around a car as his woman is threatened is something I have seen from him dozens of times before.  But that very familiarity makes the differences stand out even more.  For one thing, the gun misfires.  In every other Akshay movie, it would either magically miss him, or the bullet would have no effect.  Or, he would dive and grab the shooter before he could pull the trigger.  But in this, Akshay avoids fighting until the trigger has actually been pulled and it is clearly too late to try any other option.  And there is no magical ability to survive bullet wounds, just a very real lucky chance.

The fight that follows is really remarkable in the same ways.  In a normal Akshay film and, heck, even in real life, Akshay would simply disarm and paralyze all attackers in under a minute.  But in this film, he is a business man who is in good physical shape, but isn’t a trained martial artist.  What saves him is that his opponents are similarly realistic.  They are barely trained boys, taken off guard by someone attacking them.  It turns into a knock down drag out fight, not very elegant or graceful.  They are rolling in the dust, Akshay throws it in one soldier’s eye, and finally struggles to grab a rock and bash the head of another soldier.  By this point, the other soldiers have recovered and are pulling out guns.  Again, realistically, one man fighting against half a dozen can only hope to momentarily delay them, not defeat them.  No matter what all those other Akshay movies have shown us.

But it was long enough, as we see on the ridge complainer George and Ibrahim in the lead of a group of other men who have rushed forward to help.  A moment later another pack shows up behind them.  And another.  And another.  Akshay embraces his family and looks at his people who are finally supporting him as he supported them, and the soldiers slowly back away.

I don’t really know what to make of that.  Obviously, it is very touching.  I mean, it is the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, that sense that people do notice and appreciate everything you have done, that when you need them, they will come through.  It also reminds me of the “Allah Hi Rahim” moment from My Name is Khan (in like 3 months when my SRKajol rewatch reaches there, I will have many many thoughts.  And I will type them through many many sobs).   All of that is obvious and makes perfect sense.

What I have a harder time with is why it is included in this movie at this particular point.  In It’s a Wonderful Life, this was the resolution because the opening conflict was that our hero was about to kill himself as he felt so helpless.  “Helpless” in the literal sense, that there was no one who would help him.  The whole point of the film is him learning that his actions were important, that he has built up a store of good works which he can call on in his time of need.  But Airlift, until now, hasn’t been about a particular character’s journey.  It has been about a particular situation which has affected characters in a variety of ways.  But the situation is the main point, not the characters.  And the actions here, which we are told through the music and the editing and the angle of the shots and all the other extremely effective filming techniques are supposed to be a grand finale, actually don’t resolve the situation.  This is a random traffic stop, ultimately they could always get through it, it is a couple thousand people against 6 guys with no back-up.  It just feels tonally off to have the ending of Akshay’s personal journey, where he learns that he has a society and a community he can fall back on, “Hum Hindustani,” “Hum Log”, all of that, be treated as a finale for the film.  I would have preferred a more low key resolution to it, something like George alone running up and irritating the soldiers into leaving them alone, make this final gesture towards acknowledging Akshay’s greatness a smaller point, and then save the big emotional moment for the real finale, which is coming in just a few minutes.

Back in India, meanwhile, Kohli is on the phone desperately trying to get the Jordan embassy to approve temporary passports for everyone.  And the convoy is getting closer and closer to the Jordan border as he talks.  It’s a very good intercutting, showing how the unheroic paper pushing and phone calls have an actual effect on the ground with the group coming ever closer to the Border guards.  At the absolute last minute, Kohli is able to get approval through a personal appeal to the paper-pusher at the embassy (again, the individual decision is prized over the societal) and the gates are opened.

And then we are at the Jordan airport!  And I just can’t ignore the numbers issue any more!  It’s bugging me too much!  It is this massive crowd gathered at the airport, but they are still all fitting into the space in front of the airport.  If we are talking several thousand, which is the figure they keep tossing around, there is just no way!

But there is a nice thing that it took a minute for me to understand.  I’m used to flying out of an airport so big that there are like 70 flags marking international flights and you don’t even notice them, but at this airport, there are only a half dozen of them, and it is obvious that India is missing.  Akshay rushes up to the Indian customs window to ask what is happening, why isn’t it faster, and the customs guy says he is waiting too, they just have to see what happens.  Okay, THIS should be Akshay’s big emotional finale moment.  As he is finally completely helpless, just waiting and trusting in what is happening in India to work out for him.  To finally and completely admit and accept his helplessness and his need for others.  And then they come through for him!  As Akshay watches, with everyone else, the Indian flag is raised, Kohli and everyone else has come through for them, the flights are coming in.

And, song!  Big dramatic and super on the nose song!  But, as my friend I watched it with pointed out, it is a song for the diaspora of the 90s, not today.  The lyrics say “That which you have forgotten, still remembers you.”  As in, members of the diaspora who have rejected their Indian identity are still being protected by their homeland.  In a larger sense, since we have been shown over and over again that it is actions of individuals and not the state which are helping them, they are being protected by their larger community of fellow Indians.  Which feels a little “well, no duh!” to me.  But if I think of it in terms of the 90s, when the whole idea of an NRI identity and community was still being introduced, this song works very well as a kind of opening anthem to that concept, rather than the re-affirmation it feels like to me watching it now, in a theater in 2016 surrounded by cheering desis.  Oh right, I should tell you, when the flag was raised on screen, the old man sitting in front of me in the theater spontaneously started applauding, and was quickly joined by most of the theater.  No singing along to the “Vande Mataram!” which ends this song, but it was a close thing.  The people in the theater with me do not need to remember their homeland or their identity, but they have had 25 years more experience in a massive diasporic community than the characters onscreen to resolve, in order to help them resolve their ethnic versus national identities.

And then we just have a series of triumphal moments to run out the film.  First, the fwippy sign in the airport changes to display the first flight to Bombay, greeted by cheers (darn!  I should have checked to see whether they did the period appropriate Bombay or the politically expedient Mumbai!  In the last Once Upon a Time in Bombay film, they just blurred all the signs so they wouldn’t even have to deal with it).  Then there is boarding, with the captain introducing himself on the intercom, followed by cheers.  Oh, and the flight attendants offer them drinks.  They made flight attendants go into a war zone?  Why didn’t we get to see that meeting?  Once the pilots agree, everyone is just supposed to go along?

(Poor Air India flight attendants!  First Shahid hallucinates that you are his fiancee, than Shahrukh stalks you, now you have to work in a war zone!)

Oh, and resolution for Ibrahim!  I forgot there was an earlier scene with him, back when they were loading the buses, Akshay noticed he wasn’t on them.  He went back into the camp and found him and asked why he wasn’t coming.  Ibrahim said he had to stay, he couldn’t leave without his wife.  And Akshay has a really interesting argument, that to stay would actually mean he had given up on her, that he knew there was no hope.  Instead, he should come to India, survive, and trust that someday she may find him.  It almost sounds like a lesson to forget your non-desi wife and start a new life with a new wife in India, but not quite.

And that “not quite” becomes “definitely not” as we reach the end.  The whole line of refugees is coming up to a table, giving their names, and getting a stamped temporary passport.  Poonewale and his daughter get their papers and embrace, and then behind them is the Kuwaiti woman and child.  They ask for her name, she possibly doesn’t even understand what is being asked, George reaches out behind her and we never find out if he was going to help, or to rat her out.  And then Ibrahim pops up and gives the name of his wife, and puts his arm around her and leads her and the child away.  The romantic in me wants it to be a sweet wordless romance between them which will lead to a happy life as he replaces her dead husband and her child’s father and she replaces his lost wife.  The less romantic in me still likes it, as a final way he can serve his wife and “save” her, by saving this woman.  To show that, in a larger sense, that the Indian community did build ties to this land and its people and they are paying it back in a small way.

And then finally, we see Akshay watching a plane take off as he gives his voice over saying, you may complain about India, ask what it has done for you, but after he got on that last flight out, he never has to ask any more.  Before I deal with the sentiment, he took the last flight out?  Didn’t they last several weeks?  Where was he staying?  Yet another numbers problem!  If he means the last flight out after his particular group for which he was responsible (about 2 thousand people, I think) took off, then that would be like 24 hours later, which makes complete sense.

But then there is the sentiment.  Yes, India did this for him.  But it wasn’t India the flag-waving nation, it was India the on the ground people who felt a connection to his plight.  I like that message.  I actually like it a lot better than a film which says that India is made up of perfect and wonderful people dedicated to serving the nation.  But that isn’t what this final line says.  It says “shut up and sit down and stop complaining, listen to us, because we do good things and you owe us.”

I may be miss-remembering it, and it may not have been the best subtitles, but that was the message I got, and it was a message that felt discordant with the rest of the film.  It was also a voice over, which makes me wonder if they added it later, and possibly removed it for some international releases (like Pakistan).  The whole point of the film was the individual and individual choices and voluntary sacrifices, why should the end message be that India is the best and we should all always be grateful to her?

And on that somewhat questioning note, I will end!

17 thoughts on “Airlift: Part 4! The Ending! All the Way to the Finale! Complete! (Spoilers Are Here)

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  2. Like you, I was so intrigued by the Ibrahim guy. I wish that the film had not been SO star focused and that Ibrahim could have had a few more little moments. I also have the same problems with the wife character that you did.

    Like

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