Akshay Kumar’s recently released movie ‘Airlift’ is growing rapidly. Akshay Kumar’s acting and movie both are praised by everyone. Akshay Kumar has played the role of an NRI businessman, settled in Kuwait named ‘Ranjit Katyal’. But now the question is, Does this named man exists or is it a fictional character???
There is absolutely no evidence that such a man existed. “The truth is, no NRI helped us evacuate Indians from Kuwait. The entire operation was financed and executed by the Indian government,” says Sureshmal Mathur, the Indian second secretary in the Indian embassy in Kuwait during Saddam’s attack.
‘That’s true but I cannot talk about him (Katyal). He’s still alive and a big businessman today, living in Kuwait. But I didn’t meet him. Raja Menon (the director) met him and spoke to him over the phone. But my character isn’t completely based on one person. There were three or four people like him, who were involved in the operation. We’ve combined all their stories for the character but Ranjit Katyal was the main guy. We’ve changed his name in the film. I should bring to your notice that in 1990, he was a multimillionaire but he lost everything, got everybody back to India from Kuwait and today, he’s a multimillionaire again. He’s earned back all his money,’ Akshay Kumar says in an interview when asked about Katyal.
In 1990, when the emergency began, Saddam was considered a friend in Delhi and during the Gulf crisis, the Indian government was actually slammed for its pro-Iraq angle during the Gulf crisis.
To maintain its diplomatic ties with Iraq, the former government sent foreign minister IK Gujral to meet Saddam, whose hold of the Iraqi dictator actually turned India into a laughing stock for the world.
The short point is: Evacuating Indians from Kuwait was a huge logistical problem. But the Government was not exactly racing against time to save Indians in Kuwait from the advancing army of a ruler bent on killing them.
So, Nationalistic chest thumping, fist pumping and flag hoisting could be riveting cinema, but it certainly isn’t authentic history. Much of the movie Airlift is, obviously, fueled by just gas. It could be a great film.
The real story of the evacuation is this: After the invasion, Gujral reached Kuwait and promised Indians eager to leave that the government will evacuate them and the operation would be financed by the treasury.
Since operating flights from a potential war zone was difficult, Air India decided to fly Indians to Mumbai from Jordan. For taking Indians from Kuwait to Jordan, the Indian government hired an Iraqi bus operator and the entire operation was coordinated by MP Mascarenhas, the AI head in the Gulf who was later on promoted to the post of the carrier’s Managing Director, and the Indian diplomats in the region.
The story of Ranjit Katyal is just tripe. Some people had come forward to help the Indian embassy compile lists of people to be put on buses to Amman. One of them had given the staff his house to use as temporary office.
Everything else is a well-timed marketing con to make Indians brimming with R-Day inspired deshbhakti pay for their innocence by saluting a hero that never existed and ignoring those who were the real force behind the operation.
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