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Ship owners counter Airlift director’s claim by sharing Akshay Kumar’s old statement


Ship owners Hanif Modak and Captain Viraf Kekobad have made a documentary after being miffed with the ship scene in the movie. 

Keyur Seta

Earlier this week, we reported about the documentary Mission Safeer: 37 Days To Freedom, which was based on the heroic efforts of the ship MV Safeer evacuating 722 Indians from war-torn Kuwait in 1990 after Saddam Hussain invaded the country. It was screened last week at the LIFFT India Filmotsav in Lonavala. 

The film is made by the owners of the ship Hanif Modak and Captain Viraf Kekobad after they were distressed with a scene in the Hindi film Airlift (2016). The said scene shows that the captain of the ship, that carried 722 Indians to safety, took a hefty bribe for the same while they had carried out the mission without taking any money from anyone. 

When we exclusively spoke with Raja Krishna Menon after that, the director of Airlift, he said that it’s a fictional film based on the real incident of Indians being evacuated from Kuwait in 1990 and that it’s not a real story. 

“Our story is completely fictional as it says in the beginning [in the disclaimer],” said Menon. “All our characters are also fictional. There is no real person called Ranjit Katyal [Kumar’s character]. He is a fictional character. He is an amalgamation of various people [who had rescued Indians from Kuwait then]. The film is not a historical.” 

Regarding the ship, Menon added, “There is no reference to the ship called MV Safeer [in the movie]. We have never tried to show it as MV Safeer. We have just shown a ship. We never said it is this ship. The film is based on a true story. It’s not a true story. They [crew of MV Safeer] surely must have carried out this task. They deserve full credit for it.” 

Now, after reading our report, Modak and Kekobad have tried countering Menon by bringing out an interview of the film’s main lead and co-producer Akshay Kumar where he has stated that everything shown in Airlift is true. 

During a chat with the Hindi news channel India TV before the release of the film in presence of Menon, the actor had said, “Let me tell you this is a real story. You will find nothing in the film that is imaginary. Whatever you will see in the film is real. It is learnt from actual people. And this is how this story is made,” said Kumar. 

Reacting to it, Kekobad told us, “When Akshay Kumar vehemently said in the interview that whatever was shown in Airlift was true then why did the movie show the ship’s scene in an outright disparaging way and also ridiculing the Merchant Navy? Adding insult to injury, the director Raja Menon has claimed to have done research for ten years with last three years prior to release of this movie being dedicated to full time research.” 

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