“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Kunal Shivdsani / Actors: Shiney Ahuja, Esha Deol, K.K Raina, Kaveri Jha ... / DVD released 2008-10-06 at Eros International / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Surround Sound, PAL „
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Vikram was once a pilot, but after the plane he was flying was hijacked and his wife was killed, he gives up his career to become an airplane maintenance man. His life now is his daughter, Priya. At the same time, a major terrorist called Rashid Omar has been captured by the authorities, despite his colleague's best attempts to bust him out of jail. The terrorists decide to hijack a plane so that they can use the hostages as a bargaining tool to get Rashid out of jail once and for all. The only problem is that Priya is on the plane that is being hijacked. Once Vikram finds out, there is no way that he can sit back and wait to find out what happens. He uses his knowledge of airplanes to break into the plane and then, with the help of air hostess Saira, he plans to pick off the hijackers one by one. Bearing in mind the hijackers' phenomenal strength and manpower, can he achieve the impossible? And what happens if the hijackers find out who he is and that Priya is on the plane?
This 2008 Hindi language film is directed by Kunal Shivdasani, and is based on the story of a real hijack, with a good dose of Diehard and Flightplan thrown in - the latter because some of the action takes place in the under-carriage of the plane. Knowing that the film was considered a box office flop and that it appeared to be so similar to Diehard, I didn't really have high expectations. Nevertheless, no-one can deny that the action doesn't let up from start to finish and although the film certainly isn't without flaws, it is very entertaining. The first thing many people want to know when watching a Bollywood film is whether there is any singing and dancing. There is, but it is kept to a minimum. One routine is in a nightclub and so is perfectly in place - it's a shame that the main dancer, apparently Brazilian, is strangely dressed in a series of tight, rubber leotards and seems very out of place. The other routine involves Vikram and is a flashback to the first meeting with his wife. It's a bit sickly, but the song is pleasant to hear and it does help to cement the fact that Vikram was devastated by her loss.
Vikram is played by Shiney Ahuja. He's a good-looking man who keeps in shape, so his transformation from lowly mechanic to one-man action hero isn't entirely outside the bounds of reality. His love for his wife and child immediately help the viewer get behind him though and there's no doubt that he is a pleasure to watch. He apparently did a lot of the stunts himself, and although I've seen better and cleverer stunts in Hollywood films, they are perfectly adequate for the purpose of the film. I'm not going to put him at the top of my favourite actor list, but I'd certainly be willing to watch more of him. The air hostess, Saira, is played by Esha Deol, who has apparently been panned by the critics for her performance. I thought she was fine though. She's attractive, looked scared and angry when she needed to, and generally provided a flash of glamour. She has a couple of dodgy lines, but that's the fault of the scriptwriter.
Unfortunately, some of the other characters are a bit silly and turn what should have been a very serious drama into something with a few flashes of misplaced humour. Most notably, there is K K Raina as Rashid. When we first see him, he is sitting in a cage, being transported to a high security unit, and he looks incredibly evil - which, as he is, is perfectly acceptable. He is completely bald, but has a really bushy beard. As the film progresses, however, he starts to act increasingly oddly - I think the aim was to show that he is a complete nutcase, but he overdoes it to the extent that he becomes a complete caricature. Then there is a group of four young people on the plane who act like idiots and, because they annoyed one of the hijackers before boarding, get picked on. They, along with a honeymooning couple and an idiotic businessman who thinks he can stand up to the hijackers, are so unrealistic that it is painful to watch. They are neither funny, nor do they attract sympathy. A little less over-acting would have gone down much better.
The plot, for all it may not be original, is a good one. It is relentless from start to finish and although the film is about 2 hours long, it is never boring. The hijackers are as unpleasant as they could possibly be and there is continually the knowledge that, at any minute, another hostage could die. There is certainly plenty of death in the film; to the extent that I lost count of how many murders were committed. The fact that there is an attempt to bring the hostages into the story before they board the plane is commendable; it gives the viewer the chance to develop some kind of feelings for their fate. Unfortunately, this is one area where the film falls flat, because these characters are so annoying that it is almost a relief when they are finished off. The ending, with family members and friends throwing themselves at the dead bodies of their loved ones is a little cringe-worthy to watch, but that is probably a cultural thing and anyway, none of us know how we would react until we've been in a similar situation.
The special effects and stunts are fairly well done. When someone is shot dead, they look like they are dead and the way they fall looks realistic. Shiney Ahuja's floor dives and action scenes in general are good. There is one ridiculous point, however, when a nightclub is bombed before the hijack takes place. This is portrayed by lots of smoke and flames, with four silhouettes being thrown into the air by the blast. It looks incredibly fake and sits really badly with the rest of the film. A little more effort surely wouldn't have added much in the way of cost to the budget and would have made it look so much classier. Thankfully, that is a one-off - although as it comes so soon after the start of the film, it could put a lot of people off.
The film is in Hindi, although there are constantly sentences and phrases in English littered throughout the film, especially when the focus is on the authorities who are trying to deal with the hijack. I didn't have a problem with the subtitles; they were easy to follow and were natural, apart from the song lyrics, which, as often happens with Bollywood films, are incredibly cheesy!
The only special features are adverts for forthcoming attractions and currently available films from Eros, the distributor. There are also clips of three main songs - the two mentioned above and another one played during the credits at the beginning and end.
I've seen much better made films than this; nevertheless, it is very entertaining, I thought the pacing was great and the main performances are good. Action films aren't usually my thing, but perhaps because this is based on a true story, it worked for me. Had a little more effort gone into the special effects, the secondary characters and the script, which was beyond cheesy at times, I would certainly recommend it more highly. As it is, it's worth a watch if you get the chance. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £12.99.
Running time: 118 minutes.
The police are moving terrorist mastermind Rashid Omar via road with a separate convoy as a decoy. A helicopter "rescue" is attempted but fails. At a meeting of senior officials about Omar a turbaned police senior offers "Should we encounter him?" In India when cops talk about an encounter it means killing a prisoner on a journey whilst making it seem he was trying to escape...
Vikram Madan works at Chandigarh Airport (India) as a maintenance officer. His daughter Priya is on a flight from Amritsar to Delhi which is hijacked by a group of terrorists demanding the release of their mastermind Rashid Omar. They stop the plane at Chandigarh to refuel and Vikram gets on board and with the aid of air hostess Saira, he tries to rescue his daughter and the other hostages.
Hijack is based partly on a true hijack incident of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 on Christmas Eve in 1999 from Nepal to Delhi which ended with three Islamic militants being released by India and which led to relations between India and the Taliban deteriorating even further. This hijacking has been most often referred to as the Kandahar hijacking. One of the militants who was released was later arrested for the murder of Daniel Pearl and one of them founded the mujahedeen organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed which has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.
Having watched Hijack I'd have to say that it is a Bollywood version of Die Hard, Air Force One, Flight Plan, Executive Decision and a mixture of various other movies involving aircraft being hijacked. I recognised several parts from the film as being lifted from other films. For example, the politician on board who thinks he can win votes by getting involved in the negotiations, well you can guess what happens to him, can't you? Then there's the arrogant businessman who refuses to move out of 1st class into economy because he's paid for a 1st class ticket, his end was nigh the moment we see him arguing with the hijackers! There's the sub-plot of emails being sent from the terrorists and the realisation about who else is working with the hijackers. On the flight that this film is supposed to be based on (Indian Airlines flight IC-814) there was a honeymoon couple: the husband was killed brutally by the hijackers (this was the only passenger death on the original flight) and in Hijack we also have a honeymoon couple but the end result is slightly different. One of the subplots in Hijack includes an elderly couple who clearly adore each other but the husband suffers from severe asthma which leads to his very protective wife confronting one of the hijackers when she tries to retrieve his inhaler from their hand luggage.
In a scene at the start of the film you see 4 college students in a nightclub plotting how they're going away for a few days and one of the girls doesn't know how she's going to hide from her parents that she's going away. Her friends persuade her to say she's staying with one of them for study purposes as she doesn't have a computer at home and needs access to a PC to finish her project. One wonders what sort of parents wouldn't call their daughter at the friend's house for 3 days... Shortly after these kids leave the nightclub it's blown up by terrorists, how unlucky are they to board a flight that gets hijacked as well? Of course the nightclub scene was mainly so we could have a song and dance number but thankfully there are only 2 or 3 songs in the film.
Hijack stars Shiney Ahuja as Vikram Madan, a flight maintenance officer who was previously a pilot. A flight he was in charge of was taken over by hijackers and his wife was killed and he blames himself. His pride and joy daughter Priya is away at boarding school and as luck would have it, she's on her way to a debating competition accompanied by a teacher when the very plane she's on getted hijacked so of course her father decides he's going to get her off that flight safely at any cost. All very well as part of a storyline, what father wouldn't want to save his child from the hands of a bunch of deadly terrorists? Ahuja is a very able performer; he doesn't overdo it with the histrionics at all and is very credible as the strong but silent type boarding the hijacked aircraft whilst it's being refuelled. Of course, we're to believe that the hijackers are stupid enough not to notice someone getting on board the flight that they've worked so hard to take over. I have to say I've enjoyed watching Ahuja in the films I've seen him in so far.
Esha Deol plays Saira, an air hostess who assists Vikram in his quest to take out the hijackers. Quite a different role for her I felt, considering normally she plays roles where she has to show as much flesh as possible. It was nice for Deol to have a role for once where her good looks were played down. She didn't overact in Hijack the way she has done in some of her other movies and she had a good on screen chemistry with Ahuja as well as the cute child who played his daughter Ishita Chauhan. The child was very endearing but the teacher who was accompanying her might as well have not been there for all the support she gave to the child who was supposed to be in her care. Sack that teacher I say!
One scene which really annoyed me due to it being totally indigestible was when prior to the plane being hijacked, Esha Deol is dealing with a passenger and one of the terrorists sitting nearby reaches out and creepily strokes her bottom, she turns and gives him a dirty look. I'm fairly sure a terrorist wouldn't want attention drawn to himself in that manner and would an air hostess in this day and age actually let that pass without reporting the passenger for sexual harassment?
K K Raina as the terrorist who the hijackers want released was not at all impressive. He has a shaved head and beard and moustache and is almost a caricature of a terrorist with an extremely irritating laugh which made him come across as a pantomime baddie. He just wasn't remotely menacing and every time he appeared on screen he seemed to have a stupid grin on his face which I made me want to slap him and tell him to take the role seriously!
I liked the way they showed how the weapons were brought on board in flashback mode, fairly credible and one hopes this sort of lapse of security really does not take place and if it once did, let's hope it does not happen anymore! Aside from the character of Rashid Omar, I found the actors who played the hijackers to be pretty decent with none of them going over the top in their roles. On the other hand I've thankfully never experienced hijackers in real life so I have no idea how they might actually behave, I just felt they didn't overdo it compared to hijackers behaviour portrayed in some other films.
Whilst Hijack didn't do so well in the box office, I found it a fairly decent film. The hijacking wasn't glamorised - the action scenes weren't overly drawn out, the songs were kept to a minimum and the sub-plots were nice enough and not overly ambitious as to detract from the main storyline. There wasn't any gratuitous bloodshed; the scenes where people are shot were mostly done quickly and without being shown directly, i.e. off screen.
I'm giving Hijack a decent 4 out of 5 stars and a recommendation to watch if you enjoy this genre of movie.
Starring: Shiney Ahuja, Esha Deol
Director: Kunal Shivdasani (first film, previously directed adverts)
Produced by: Aleya Motion Magic Pvt Ltd
Release date: August 2008
Duration: 122 minutes
DVD extras: apart from the main movie, scene selection, song selection, subtitles (English only) and upcoming releases. My DVD purchased from Eros Entertainment had no other extras.