Runway 34: a peak into the cockpit and airline business

Amitabh Bachchan conveys a strong message repeatedly -confess your mistake, learn from it and never repeat it again.

BY Sanjiv Kulkarni

We put our lives into the hands of the doctor when we undergo an operation. We do this knowingly – yes, we are nervous and constantly praying to the Lord. Similarly, we also put our lives in the hands of the pilot when we board a plane. But the key difference is that we are usually unaware of his/her capabilities and are pretty relaxed. Some people rarely ever pray before a flight.

Now, there would be one such flight where you will remember and desperately pray to the Lord. This movie, ‘Runway 34’, is about that one such flight experience.

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As I write this review, I am on a flight and started off with a prayer.

I recollect a flight experience about ten years ago which is still fresh in my head. We hit a pretty turbulent patch mid-air, the flight got into cloud pockets and free falls and everyone was very nervous and scared. I was in a window seat and suddenly noticed our flight swerve left, and from the window I saw another flight zoom past on my right. Everything just went silent around me for a while! Clearly the turbulent weather wasn’t helping maintain altitude and the pilot through his / her presence of mind realised an oncoming plane and averted a potential mid-air collision.

While ‘Runway 34’ is not about a mid-air collision aversion, it is inspired by real-life incidents such as the Doha-Kochi Jet Airways flight of August 2015, the mind-boggling US Airways flight landing on Hudson by pilot Sully Sullenberger in 2009, and the unfortunate Air India flight crash on a runway in Mangalore in 2010.

The first half of ‘Runway 34’ is the flight journey and how the pilots miraculously land the flight in adverse conditions and turbulent weather, saving all passengers.

They say All is well that ends well. But is it really? Given the huge risks due to passenger safety, should the pilot and crew go scot-free because the pilot landed the plane successfully and no one died? This is what the second half of ‘Runway 34’ is all about – the official enquiry process.

Such film plots require some top class VFX and some gripping court drama. However, the movie fails on both counts! At many places audience can notice resemblances to Hollywood films like Sully (2016) and Flight (2012). Ajay Devgn as the lead Pilot (Actor, Director, Producer) must take responsibility for this disaster landing!

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On the visual effects front, Ajay Devgn has used an actual flight cockpit to give realistic effects, but the rest of the effects are passe.

On the court room drama front, it is primarily focused only on showcasing Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn’s acting rather than content. The prodigal pilot, Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgn), has made some glaring mistakes in decision making, which seem to be overlooked by a seasoned interrogator like Narayan Vedant (Amitabh Bachchan). I feel, Rakul Preet Singh (as Tanya Alburqurquee) is wasted throughout by showing her as a scared pilot both in the plane and in the courtroom.

On the acting front, both the seasoned actors are predictable. Audience can feel that they have seen th e same acting prowess in ‘Pink’, ‘Major Saab’, ‘Golmaal’ or any of their past movies. Further, there is no novelty even in the dialogues – there could have been more drama and dialogue to the trial-led second half. This is again the failure of the director which is supported by box office reports.

Despite positive reviews from friendly critics and industry insiders, the film sits at a global collection of a meagre 32 crores (Rs 320 million).

On the positive side, there are two things: Amitabh Bachchan conveys a strong message repeatedly -confess your mistake, learn from it and never repeat it again. This I believe is a good life lesson for all. The second positive is the storyline which gives us a peak into the cockpit and the airline business.

In conclusion, the movie is watchable on big screen as the performances aren’t entirely bad but not too attractive either. I hope the he next time Ajay Devgn tries his hand at direction, he should keep himself just in the Director’s seat and to remain focussed and objective give chance to new talented other actors.

Contributing Author: Sanjiv Kulkarni is an ardent Indian cinema buff with an interest in the art of movie-making. He shares his take on movies and some rarer movies too. He lives in Melbourne and works as an IT Sales leader.

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