AIRLIFT – Interview with actress Nimrat Kaur
Nimrat Kaur, the talented and beautiful Punjabi actress and model, best known for her role in The Lunchbox, opposite Irrfan Khan and playing an ISI agent in the hit tv series Homeland, talks about her experience making her current film ‘Airlift’ a story based on true events, set in 1990 during the Gulf War when Sadam Hussain invaded Kuwait.
1. Tell us about your current movie ‘Airlift’?
NK – “Airlift” is based on a true story of a powerful Indian businessman, Ranjit Katyal, who with the help of the Indian government evacuates over 170,000 Indians in 488 Air India flights over a period of 59 days. The film is based on the largest human evacuation in history that took place during the Iraq-Kuwait war in the 1990’s. What Indian expats went through during this incident is dramatic.
2. Why is Airlift a dramatic story?
NK – “Airlift” is a dramatic story because of what people had to go through. The evacuation plan wasn’t successful in one go, there was a lot of failures and disappointments before Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar’s character’s name in the film) finally succeeded. Because of the Gulf War, thousands of people suddenly became homeless, jobless and without money. Getting basic necessities like food, clothing became challenging and there was complete mayhem.
3. What was it like working with Akshay Kumar, how is he as a co-star?
NK – Akshay Kumar is a huge star, so I was of course intimidated and nervous before meeting him. But having worked with him, I know he’s such a good actor and one of the most wonderful persons I have met till date. He made me feel comfortable and I really enjoyed working with him.
4. Were you aware that such an event had happened?
NK – Not at all, and I don’t think a lot of people knew about it either. The airlift episode took place as recently as 20 years ago, but still very few people are aware of it. It’s impressive and surprising how politics and governments have managed to hide such an historic event, when such incidents should be spoken about.
5. Why has it taken this long for you to do a second film?
NK – I was half a year away for American tele series “Homeland”, which took a lot of my time. And then when I came back, it just so happened that I didn’t like the scripts that I was offered, or the ones I liked didn’t take off at the right time. So it was just a matter of chance that I had a two year gap.
6. When did you decide to become an actor?
NK – I don’t think that you wake up one day knowing you want to become an actor. I don’t have anyone in my family who is an artist as ours is an academically inclined family. So just admitting out loud that I want to become an actor did not come easy.
Airlift is an edge-of-the-seat entertaining thriller. The story, based on a true event, is set in 1990 in Kuwait, the time of the Gulf War when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The film has Akshay Kumar, playing Ranjit Katyal, a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman, who initially considers himself a Kuwaiti rather than an Indian. But after finding himself and the lives of his family in danger, eventually becomes the man who helps evacuate 170,000 Indians from Kuwait and brings them back safely to India. Over 59 days, 488 Air India commercial airliners were flown into a war zone to evacuate 170,000 Indians and bring them back home safely.
Airlift is the story of the largest human evacuation in history, which has also found its way to the Guinness Book Of World Records. In a cynical world, where one often wonders what the country has done for them, this is a stark reminder of what the country did, not for one or ten, but for 170,000 of its own. An event which has almost been lost in the sands of history, but an event we all need to remember.
Airlift is directed by Raja Krishna Menon and stars Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur (Homeland, The Lunchbox).
At cinemas now. Watch the trailer below.