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An act of heroism which long deserved a tribute-Neerja Bhanot



An act of heroism which long deserved a tribute-Neerja Bhanot

I recently saw the biopic of Neerja Bhanot, potrayed by Sonam Kapoor.

For the uninitiated, Neerja Bhanot was an Air Hostess with the Pan Am enroute to Newyork from Karachi airport in 1986. She was the head cabin crew, as she most fondly called herself in the recently release biopic on her. Through the film, the Indian celluloid has attempted to highlight the ordeal which led to her tragic death, when she was all of 23 on the 7th of September, 1986 (her birthday).

While the movie is a noble attempt to capture the emotions of her tragic death cinematically, and showing the details of her ordeal after her flight got hijacked by some amateurish men armed with ammunition; it is her human character which leaves back a strange feeling.

After such a long time I have seen not only a brave act of heroism, but also an act of human kindness which has no boundaries.  Neerja was not really bounded by her duty, or any sort of responsibility to save passengers on-board the plane. Yet, her very presence of mind and alertness led to a twist in the situation from the beginning. She possessed a natural instinct, and used it at different point in the hijack episode to tackle the situation effectively.

It was all being done at the risk of her life. There were many heart-wrenching scenes which show gun being pointed at her, which means she only escaped death in a brave negotiation with time. Her end was fateful; however, she dies a brave death after saving 359 passengers by tactfully opening the emergency exit and helping the passengers slide down. All this happened when the plane was parked, and the alleged terrorists have resorted to open fire indiscriminately.

Neerja Bhanot was later conferred with many bravery awards, and for me, what remains in the end is the huge spirit of human kindness, a character which literally redefines humanity, bravery, responsibility, and human reciprocity.

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