Not many Bollywood films are shot in the air with the inclusion of an airplane being a prime shoot location. Ajay Devgn’s directorial ‘‘Runway 34’’, in which he also stars as the lead, is somewhat an unexpected feat. He has had previous attempts at directing a film including “U, Me aur Hum” and “Shivaay”, with this being his third attempt behind the camera. The ensemble of the movie seems star-studded with actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Boman Irani, Rakulpreet Singh, Ajey Nagar and more.
The film is apparently based on the Kochi-Doha incident of 2015 where a Jet Airways flight was stuck in a similar incident. Due to unclear visibility and a bad climate, the flight had met with a narrow escape, just like in the movie. Captain Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgn) is an arrogant and carefree pilot who is also very confident about his flying and judgment. With this self-esteem, he navigated a flight at a height of 35,000 feet above sea-levels with evident turbulence and a lot of chaos.
The flight takes off from Dubai to Cochi, which is a regular flight route but this time, Khanna catches bad weather that has almost restricted him from a safe landing. His co-pilot, Tanya Albuquerque (Rakulpreet Singh) is an assertive female professional who knows how to voice her opinion. Despite her opposing the idea of an unsafe landing, he sends out a “May-Day” message and lands, almost nearing a crash. This is followed by a lot of dreary courtroom drama and blame-game.
Many passengers on the flight, set out from Dubai to Cochi, discuss their lives and the audiences can hear that. Amongst the passengers is Ajey Nagar as Carryminati himself. Solely because of his live-recording does the audience get to see the status of the flight during the crisis.
While the first half of the movie is in the air, the second half revolves around the courtroom and offices, trying to pin the consequences of the crisis onto Khanna. Amitabh Bachchan makes a powerful entry here as Narayan Vedant, an aviation officer, there to understand the “faulty” landing and charge Devgn.
Bachchan sir has a supreme command over his language and his diction is beyond good. The second half of the movie was actually held together because of his performance. Boman Irani also has a part to play as the airline owner for which Captain Khanna works. The story is crisp and has a new concept for which we must appreciate Sandeep Kewlani. Along with this, the VFX and cinematography compliments the cast and the storyline brilliantly. The screenplay by Sandeep and Aamil Keeyan Khan is sharp and chic, keeping the audiences engaged while making it seem very realistic.
Ajay Devgn as Captain Vikrant Khanna seemed like a good choice for the role and we as an audience root for him. His persona and short-temperedness is very well caught on by Devgn in his performance. Rakulpreet Singh as Tanya looks assertive and bold with her taking a stand for herself. The role is of a co-pilot suited Singh, as we’ve seen her donning many different roles in the past, but this one looks powerful. Boman Irani’s performance goes on the negative end of the spectrum but I enjoyed seeing him in that mode with his cunning thoughts. Amitabh Bachchan as Vedant in the jury makes perfect sense together. He carries those scenes on his shoulders.
Although the jury seemed a bit exaggerated, not representing how a real jury works like, you can’t help but let go of those nitpicks as this is a mainstream film after all and some tweaks are mandatory. All in all, the movie shines light on an important subject of how safe are the lives of people in a flight, in the hands of a pilot? With a pilot being a human first, it becomes slightly risky in some situations as we humans tend to be fickle-minded and at times even unpredictable. The 2 hours and 28 minute movie makes for a good one time watch and being a Bollywood movie, it will definitely feel slightly extra over the top. But as long as exploring something different goes, this makes for a good choice.