Directed by Ram Madhvani, Neerja is not only one of the best plane hijack thriller films I have seen, but also one of India’s best female centric films. Based upon real life story of Neerja Bhanot, the Pan American air hostess who gave up her life doing her duty and trying to save the lives of over 300 passengers of the Pan Am flight 73 hijacked by terrorists at Karachi airport, the film portrays the series of events during the one and half day in the life of Neerja and her friends and family starting from the night before she flew till the day her body was received by her grieving family.

Beyond this there is not much to talk about the story. We already know the plot and how it ended, so there is no suspense factor. The thing to watch out for is how Neerja, this simple young airhostess and model emerges as the bravest person on the flight in the face of terror.

Neerja is inarguably one of the best films with a female lead narrating a woman story without even uttering common words like Durga, naari Shakti, devi, maa etc. It is particularly remarkable that the film doesn’t have predictable motifs and plots commonly used to make woman stories relevant and portray women as strong characters. There is no wronged woman here who wants to take a revenge, no mother who is struggling and fighting all odds to raise her children, no multi-tasking multi-talented woman who manages both work and family, no fierce police officer or successful film star. Neerja was not Jhansi ki Rani or Devi Durga, she was just Neerja and that made all the difference.

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