Quote of the day:
“A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”
-Ziad K. Abdelnour
I saw the film last week and it’s DEFINATELY worth the watch! Neerja is a true story about Neerja Bhanot, a purser for Pan Am, based in Mumbai, who was shot and killed while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pam Am Flight 73 on September 5th, 1986. She became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime military award for bravery, the Ashok Chakra.
It’s unfortunate such hero’s exist and nobody knows about them until Bollywood makes a film about them. On the positive note, at least this way, we get to know about them and then they are the most googled person ever afterwards! I have been reading a lot about this beautiful girl. Sonam Kapoor completely did justice in this role! This story hit home a bit more for me, because Neerja is originally from my hometown, Chandigarh.
Neerja was the senior flight purser on the Pan Am flight 73 flying from Mumbai to right here at JFK in NYC. The flight was hijacked by four armed men at its layover in Karachi, Pakistan. The aircraft was carrying 361 passengers and 19 crew members. The terrorists wanted to fly to Cyprus and wanted to release some of their team members from jail. After the terrorists boarded the plane, Neerja alerted the cockpit crew.
Neerja quickly alerts the cockpit and unfortunately the American pilots escaped the aircraft through an overhead hatch in the cockpit per their training so that the aircraft could not be forcibly flown. Neerja, being the most senior cabin crew member remaining aboard, responsibly took charge. The hijackers told Neerja and the other crew members to collect all of the American passports, which she slyly hid.
After 17 hours, the plane lost power and the lights went off. The hijackers then opened fire and set off explosives. Neerja opened one of the doors, flung open an emergency chute, and assisted passengers from the aircraft. She 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.
This incident happened just two days before her 23rd birthday. Not only had she ensured the failure of the hijacking by preventing the plane from getting off the ground, but also saved the lives of hostages in those long hours of incarceration. She is a true hero. I cannot even imagine what I would have felt if I were her in that position, especially as a 23 year old girl. One can never imagine being put in such a situation until it happens. This was not your typical Bollywood movie. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider it “Bollywood”.
I definitely encourage you to watch this film. This is not one of those things where anyone can say something like “oh I can’t watch stuff like this” – please. This young girl is a hero and deserves more than that type of response. This could happen to any one of us, but no one of us will take charge and be as brave as Neerja. She is an inspiration.
Another fun fact – I didn’t really want to say this out loud because I thought people might give me crap about it (lol) but the main terrorist, Khalil, played by Jim Sarbh – wow. I am glad I wasn’t the only one who thought so! I saw sooo many articles about how other women were gushing over him lol. #imprettypositivethereallifekhalilifthatsevenhisnameinreallifeisanuglybastardothough
In conclusion, I love flying. It usually means I am going somewhere fun. You try not to think something of such will happen when you fly, I hope this never happens to me or anyone I love, or anyone period, but we can’t tell what our destiny will be. Neerja is an inspiration. Some say she is an incarnation of goddess Durga (Goddess of Power). May she rest in peace and love.
Please watch the film & bring a full box of tissues.