Neerja : Tribute to a forgotten hero

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Sidhartha Sankar Nanda, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur


In this impatient world, where apathy exists, their also exist heroes who think  beyond themselves and make enormous sacrifices. When hurdles are high and hope seems feeble, a challenge appears to make a difference.

Neerja, the heroine of the hijack of Pan Am flight 73 in Karachi that took place on September 5, 1986 , is one such person who died in the line of duty rescuing her passengers and is the youngest recipient of the Ashok Chakra Award. This is the bravery we should be talking about. A young lady commanding a plane, negotiating with terrorists, keeping the passengers calm and maintaining her cool is the kind of bravery you rarely see in life. While she died, she was only two days away from celebrating her 23rd birthday.

Neerja movie is ultimately a family’s film that calls for a good cry. There is their love and affection and easy, carefree ways and an overwhelming love for Rajesh Khanna. The movie also contains a sense of self respect in how her parents stood by her while she was going through a bad marriage. And their anxieties, frustrations, when they were a long distance away from Karachi with no information on how their daughter is doing in the hijacked plane. The film might be about the late Neerja Bhanot, but the strongest cinematic bits are those involving Neerja’s family. There’s something totally shattering about sending your happy, healthy child away and having to receive her or him back home in a coffin on the day of his/her birthday. And thus Neerja is a must watch movie for all Indians.


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