Airlift was one of the most popular Bollywood movies of 2016. The movie had Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur as the leading pair and revolved around the incident when Air Indian helped to evacuate 1,70,000 stranded Indians from the Iraq Kuwait war. The airlines company had to make over 500 trips between Amman, Jordan’s Capital and Delhi to bring all the stranded Indians back to the country.
Airlift Movie Story
The movie, Airlift, is based on the true incident of India’s Airlift Mission where the Ministry of External Affairs along with Air India helped to safely bring back Indian workers caught in the Kuwait Iraq war to India in 1990. The movie revolves around Ranjit Katyal, played by Akshay Kumar, who was a successful Indian businessman in Kuwait and despised everything about India.
However, his life came shattering down when Saddam Hussein led Iraq invaded Kuwait to wage a war against the country. Trapped with more than a Lakh other Indians, Ranjit tried desperately to save every Indian soul in Kuwait and take them back safely to India. Even after being rejected by everyone for help, Ranjit didn’t manage to lose hope and somehow managed to bring everyone back home safely from the Warfield.
The Incident of Actual Airlift
On August 1, 1990, the Saddam Hussain led Iraqi armed forced entered the Kuwait borders and invaded its capital. The armed forces of Iraq were over-powered and the Kuwait government was made to flee. Two days later, Saddam announced its capture of Kuwait and naming it as the 19th Province of Iraq. This invasion led over 1,71,000 Indians stranded in between the war. The reasons behind Iraq Kuwait war were reported that Kuwait was stealing Iraqi petroleum by making holes in pipelines while some also suggested that it was due to Kuwait’s inability to pay back 14 billion dollars to Iraq which was given during the Iran-Iraq war.
A lot of efforts were made by Government of India with the help of Ministry of External Affairs to evacuate those stranded people. However, due to poor communication and lack of proper identification and travel documents, it was becoming increasing difficult to rescue the people. The airstrip was also closed and no carrier was allowed in or out of the country.
Still, the MEA managed to extract those Indians safely, owing to great help by Mathunny Mathews, Harbhajan Singh Vedi and other important officials, in making the Operation Desert Storm successful. About 1,11,711 people were evacuated from the worn torn place in an operation which included 488 flight trips between Jordan and Delhi and lasting over 63 days between 18th August – 20th October, 1990.
Interesting Facts about Airlift Movie
- According to various media reports, Akshay Kumar foregoes 80% of the film’s profit to the film budget and decided to appear in the movie free of cost.
- Despite the movie being set around Kuwait in 1990, it was shot in Madhya Pradesh during the first schedule of shooting.
- During the second film shooting schedule, the team and crew visited Gujarat and Rajasthan to complete the film shooting.
- Akshay Kumar and Purab Kohli specially learnt Arabic language for the film.
- Airlift was released around at 1500 to 2000 cinema screens in India while another 70 screens across the globe.
Facts about Mathunny Mathews
Akshay Kumar’s character of Ranjit Katyal was apparently based on the real life of Mathunny Mathews who was instrumental in presiding over the rescue operations for the stranded Indians in Kuwait in 1990. Here are some interesting facts about Mathunny Mathews:
- Mathews was famously known as Toyota Sunny. He was called so because of his work with the Toyota agency in Kuwait which was owned by the Al-Sayer Group.
- Mathews first went to Kuwait in 1956 by ship and remained a part of the Toyota group till 1989 as the agency’s Managing Director.
- Mathews was also one of the founding members of the Indian Art’s Circle besides also being a chairman of an Indian school in Kuwait.
- Hailing from Kerala, India, Mathews was popular as the Kuwait based Malayali Entrepreneur.
Facts about Harbhajan Singh Vedi
Another man who duly assisted Mathunny Mathews in helping the Indians who were struck between the Iraq Kuwait War was Harbhajan Singh Vedi. Here are some interesting facts about Harbhajan Singh Vedi
- Harbhajan Singh Vedi was a very renowned architect and was a consultant to most of the projects undertaken in Kuwait.
- He was very close to the ruling Al-Sabah family in Kuwait and also helped in designing most of the exotic villas in Kuwait in 1980s.
- He, along with his team of 51 other officials, worked tirelessly to arrange passports and travel documents for the stranded Indians to travel back to India safely.