After the end of the Iran-Iraq war, between Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran and Saddam Hussain in Iran, a battle that went on for 8 long years, Iraq was saddled with debt of $30 billion to Kuwait, which Saddam requested to be forgiven. Kuwait refused. Saddam pushed oil-exporting countries to raise oil prices by cutting back production but again Kuwait refused. In addition to refusing the request, Kuwait spearheaded the opposition in OPEC to the cuts that Saddam had requested. Kuwait, literally back by US, was pumping large amounts of oil, thus keeping prices low, when Iraq needed to sell high-priced oil from its wells to pay off a huge debt. The Gulf War may have started 8 years ago, with Iran-Iraq, but it gained force, as USSR used the situation to pump arms and ammunition to Iraqi forces.
August 2, 1990
“At about 2 a.m. local time, Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, Iraq’s tiny, oil-rich neighbor. Kuwait’s defense forces were rapidly overwhelmed, and those that were not destroyed retreated to Saudi Arabia. The Amir of Kuwait, his family, and other government leaders fled to Saudi Arabia, and within hours Kuwait City had been captured and the Iraqis had established a provincial government. By annexing Kuwait, Iraq gained control of 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves and, for the first time, a substantial coastline on the Persian Gulf. “(See LINK )
Saddam had always argued that Kuwait was historically an integral part of Iraq, and that Kuwait had only come into being through the maneuverings of British imperialism See LINK) this echoed a belief that Iraqi nationalists had voiced for the past 50 years. This belief was one of the few articles of faith uniting the political scene in a nation rife with sharp social, ethnic, religious, and ideological divides.
In the background of this, the film Airlift is made.
Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar), is a successful businessman in Kuwait, who likes to call himself a Kuwaiti. He is ruthless and politically well connected. But in the face of the Amir of Iraq fleeing away with his family, Akshay Kumar is left with his family and 170,000 Indian workforce in Kuwait. Suddenly, the ruthless man is unable to go run away with his family, leaving the entire people behind him.
In perhaps one of his most controlled roles, Akshay, plays negotiator and prime mover taking with him, all the people, who are now refugees in Kuwait, occupied by Iraq.
The film brings out the lameness of the Indian government, in crisis situation abroad, but does not fail to cheer the greatness of our national carrier, Air India, which supplied the planes and the pilots, previously unwilling to fly over war zones.
“The 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait was carried out from 13 August to 11 October 1990 after the Invasion of Kuwait. Air India holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner as a result of this effort. The operation was carried out during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq. It is believed to be the largest civilian evacuation in history. The Indians based in Kuwait also helped in the evacuation efforts.” (See LINK)
The film ends as the Indians salute Katiyal as they board the planes that will take them home.
Some effort that!
Why must you see the movie? Click Here’s Why
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Raja Krishna Menon
Akshay Kumar as Ranjit Katyal
Nimrat Kaur as Amrita Katyal
Feryna Wazheir as Tasneem
Inaamulhaq as Major Khalaf bin Zayd
Lena as Deepti Jayarajan
Purab Kohli as Ibrahim Durrani
Prakash Belawadi as George Kutty
Arun Bali as Bauji
Ninad Kamat as Kurien
Kaizaad Kotwal as Poonawalla
Surendra Pal as External Affairs minister
Kumud Mishra as Sanjeev Kohli
Abida Hussain as Simran(Simu)