Neerja is a 2016 Indian Hindi-language biographical thriller film written by Saiwyn Quadras, and directed by Ram Madhvani starring Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Shekhar Ravjiani. The film was produced by Atul Kasbekar under the banner of Fox Star Studios. The film revolves around the Libya backed Abu Nidal Organization's hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan on 5 September 1986, specifically focusing on head purser Neerja Bhanot who thwarted the hijack attempt by preventing the plane from taking off, which resulted in the lives of 360 hostages being saved.
The film was released worldwide on February 19, 2016. Critics praised the narration and Sonam Kapoor's performance.
Directed by Ram Madhvani
Produced by Atul Kasbekar
Shanti Sivaram Maini
Bling Unplugged
Fox Star Studios
Story by Saiwyn Quadras
Sanyuktha Chawla
Shaikh (dialogues)
Starring Sonam Kapoor
Shabana Azmi
Shekhar Ravjiani
Kavi Shastri
Music by Vishal Khurana
Release dates 19 February 2016
  • Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot
  • Shabana Azmi as Rama Bhanot
  • Shekhar Ravjiani as Jaideep
  • Yogendra Tiku as Harish Bhanot
  • Abrar Zahoor as Zayd Safarini
  • Jim Sarbh as Khalil


In January 2015, it was reported that Sonam Kapoor had been selected to play the role of Neerja Bhanot the senior flight crew member, who became the youngest recipient of the bravery award, Ashok Chakra in her biopic. It was also reported that the biopic has been tentatively titled Neerja and will be directed by ad filmmaker Ram Madhvani and that Sonam Kapoor would start shooting for the film once she wrapped up the promotions of Dolly Ki Doli and completes the schedule of Sooraj Barjatya's Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
Shabana Azmi was reported to play the crucial role of Neerja's mother in the film.
Shekhar Ravjiani, one half of Bollywood's music directing duo Vishal–Shekhar, was the last main character to be cast and it was reported in May 2015 that the musician will be making his acting debut playing Neerja Bhanot's lover in the film. It was reported that though it won't be a lengthy role, it will be a pivotal one for the film.
The music for the film has been composed by Vishal Khurana and the lyrics have been penned by Prasoon Joshi. The first song from the film was released on January 26, 2016, titled 'Jeete Hain Chal'.
The film opens with Neerja Bhanot, 22 years old, arriving (late) for a house party. She's loved by everyone, the life of every party. Later that evening her mother expresses concern once again about Neerja's job as a flight attendant and suggests Neerja return to her old job of modeling. Neerja likes her job and is driven to the airport by her boyfriend Jaideep. (Her mother is not totally thrilled about this either.) Neerja's colleagues love Jaideep, he adores her and gives her an advance birthday present.
Neerja reflects on her brief and unhappy arranged marriage. Her former husband was a professional in Doha, Qatar. He constantly harangued and abused Neerja over dowry. (It is revealed that Neerja's family had made it clear there would be no dowry, but the husband had expected something anyway.) He also abused Neerja as she could not cook or clean. She eventually returned home to honor a modeling contract. He sent back a humiliating letter attacking her parents about dowry, her lack of domestic skills and suggesting that she had better bring something (money) back or not come back at all. She broke off with him and landed a highly competitive job with Pan Am.
As Neerja boards Pan Am 73 (Sep 5, 1986) it is revealed that a terrorist group has planned to hijack the plane in Karachi. The plane takes off from Mumbai and lands in Karachi where the terrorists board the plane disguised as security officers escorting a Libyan diplomat. They reveal themselves and hijack the plane. Neerja quickly alerts the cockpit and the American pilots escape through the overhead hatch and run into the terminal. (The plane cannot be flown.)
When an Indian American inadvertantly reveals himself (to be an American) the terrorists grab him and shoot him dead before the Pakistani negotiators. The terrorists try to locate the radio engineer among the passengers but Neerja bravely signals him to remain quiet. Later the terrorists ask the flight attendants to collect the passports so as to locate the Americans and hold them hostage. Neerja and her colleagues collect the passports but skilfully avoid any American passports by kicking them under the seats or down the trash chutes. Soon the terrorists locate a British citizen and use him for negotiations.
The Pakistan negotiators inadvertently reveal the name of the radio engineer (a Pakistani); he is now located and roughly brought into the cockpit to start the radio and begin the negotiations. The Pakistanis stall for time. The terrorist leader chastises the other, younger, terrorist who has begun roughing up the passengers and molesting the attendants (including Neerja). Angered by his public embarrassment the younger terrorist storms into the cockpit and shoots the radio engineer and, in full defiance of his leader, screams wild threats over the radio. The terrorists are confused; the leader only wants to complete the mission but the younger man is now only serving his own rage. Pakistani air control is still negotiating but they are slowly losing control and time and the terrorists are getting agitated by the minute.
Some 17 hours later the plane loses auxiliary power and the lights go out. Despite Neerja and the other attendants trying to explain this as a normal airplane reaction, the terrorists believe the power was cut by the Pakistan armed forces who will soon storm the plane. They now begin indiscriminately shooting passengers. At great peril to her own life Neerja opens the rear door and deploys the chute and begins directing passengers down the chute. Neerja could have escaped by herself but she chose to put the passengers first. In the end she is shot by the terrorists as she tries to shield young children from the gunfire. The film ends with a tributary message to Neerja who was eventually recognized with bravery awards by India, USA and other countries.

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