'Neerja' opens to rave reviews, Sonam Kapoor excels
Lucknow: It is the Bollywood way to remember forgotten or little known heroes. First it was 'Airlift' showing grit of an Indian businessman in Kuwait and how he got evacuated over 1.7 lakh Indians during gulf war in 1990s. Now it is 'Neerja', eponymous biopic of a senior flight purser on hijacked flight. Going a step further ,she gave her life to save lives of 361 passengers and 19 crew members in 1986.
Ram Madhwani directed film ‘Neerja’ was released on Friday, February 19 to rave reviews. It is heart-rendering story interwoven with human emotions and personal instinct of bravery. Actor Sonam Kapoor is playing the titular role of 'Head Purser' Neerja Bhanot, has been receiving all round praise for her portrayal, many believe being her best performance so far.
- Neerja was the senior flight purser of Pan Am flight in Mumbai. On September 5 1986, she was shot while saving passengers from terrorists during the Pan Am holdup at Karachi airport.
- Neerja Bhanot was born on September 7, 1963 in Chandigarh, India, the daughter of Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot, a Mumbai-based journalist.
- She completed her higher education from Saint Xavier’s College in Mumbai.
- Bhanot married in March 1985 and joined her husband in the Gulf.
- Her marriage,however, turned sour following dowry pressure and she returned to her parents' home in Mumbai within two months.
- Music Director Shekhar Ravjiani also acted in the movie.
About the incidence:
- Pan Am Flight 73 flying from Mumbai to New York was hijacked by four armed men on September 5, 1986 at Karachi airport in Pakistan.
- All the 361 passengers and 19 crew members were captured by the terrorists.
- Bhanot was the senior flight purser of Pan Am Flight 73 and on her alert helped three cockpit crew evacuated from the aircraft.
- Being the most senior cabin crew member of the remaining aboard, she took the charge and when the terrorist started killing the passengers Neerja opened the emergency door and further assisted the passengers to escape.
Heroine of the hijack:
- Neerja could have been the first to jump out when she opened the door but she decided not to and was shot while shielding three children from a hail of bullets.
- For her act of bravery she was recognized internationally as 'the heroine of the hijack'.
- Neerja is the youngest recipient of the Ashok Chakra Award, India's most prestigious gallantry award for bravery during peace time., though posthumously.
- Bhanot was only 23 when she died and became the youngest recipient of Ashok Chakra.
- Ashok Chakra, India
- Flight Safety Foundation Heroism Award, USA
- Justice for Crimes Award, United States of Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.
- Special Courage award, United States Department of justice.
- Ministry of Civil Aviation Award, India
- Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat (Awarded for showing incredible human kindness), Pakistan
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