The Cinematic Voice of the Gulf Migrant: Airlift

‪#‎Airlift‬ is a film which I love totally. The gulf based migrant was placed into focus, which is rare. The treatment was nuanced, the geopolitics was right on dot. Akshay Kumar is a shrewd producer, appealing to the newly nationalist middle class. The flag waving made my cry. The streets and deserts of Ras Al Khaimah doubled up as Kuwait City. The topography reminded me of the backlanes of Ruwi and Dasrait in Muscat. The Arabic makes me homesick! This film is special as the gulf migrant takes centre stage, and i am a gulf migrant kid who grew up in Oman.

The cinematic voice of the gulf migrant is usually missing from the narrative as the USA/UK NRI is eulogised in ‘Namaste London’ or ‘Swades’. The fictional take of the film, is representative of the despair of the gulf migrant, a person who is the financial light of his family but hardly has any recourse to legal mechanisms in case of political disruption such as the Iraqi Invasion or the recent Arab Spring protests.

The indifferent behavior of Indian Diplomats towards the diasporic ‘subaltern’ is depicted in flesh and blood. The Gulf Desk is a neglected posting for the elite Indian Foreign Service officer dreaming of Manhattan and Trafalgar Square.

I am glad that Akshay Kumar and the Malayalee Director (who is aware of the territory of the Keralite migrant life) made the film, bringing an elusive neglected voice to the discourse, albeit in commercial cinema.


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