Sorry Akshay Kumar, Airlift is short on facts: External affairs ministry

Akshay Kumar’s Ranjit Katiyal single-handedly facilitated evacuation of 1.7 lakh Indians from Kuwait during 1990’s Gulf War in Bollywood’s hit Airlift. The truth, says external affairs ministry, is completely different as it rips into the film’s claims.
Airlift may be banking on its true story tag but external affairs ministry has ripped into the claim.
Airlift may be banking on its true story tag but external affairs ministry has ripped into the claim.
Updated on Jan 29, 2016 11:31 AM IST
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PTI | By, New Delhi

The external affairs ministry on Thursday termed Bollywood film Airlift, which portrays the Kuwait evacuation of 1990 and its role, as “great entertainment but rather short on facts”. Akshay Kumar and the team of the film has been banking on the ‘true story tag’ of the film.

“This is a film and films often take liberties with actual events, facts. This particular film has also taken artistic liberties in the depiction of the events as it actually happened in Kuwait in 1990,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He said those who remember the 1990 evacuation would also know the “very proactive” role that the MEA played.

The film, written and directed by Raja Menon, shows diplomats leaving within hours of Iraq entering Kuwait and leaving hapless Indian nationals behid. As the embassy shut down, it fell upon a band of local businessmen, including Akshay Kumar, to organise a refugee camp, negotiate with the Iraqis and return home. It also showed that external affairs ministry was least interested in evacuating Indians.

Read: Ranjit Katiyal didn’t Airlift me from Kuwait

While former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao was highly critical of the film in her tweet, Vikas Swarup was more diplomatic yet focussed on the ministry’s effort. He mentioned that official delegation was sent to Baghdad and Kuwait and that tremendous coordination was put in place with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Air India and a host of other government departments. “I myself can vouch for this as I myself was on the front lines of evacuating Indians from Kuwait who were coming into Turkey via Syria,” Swarup said.

In the film, the MEA has been shown as lacking a proactive approach. He said that those who may not remember the 1990 evacuation, would certainly remember the more recent evacuations that the MEA had coordinated from Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.

Read: Airlift review

“We do hope that the film will inspire people to read more about the actual events that took place and the very proactive role that MEA has always played in safeguarding the interest, concerns and security of Indian citizens who live and work abroad,” he said.

MEA Official Spokesperson's take on Movie Airlift

MEA Official Spokesperson's take on #airlift: Great entertainment but rather short on facts :)

Posted by Ministry of External Affairs, India on Thursday, January 28, 2016

Swarup pointed out that the fact that such a theme has been selected for a film shows how important this is. “We in the MEA consider the protection of Indian citizens abroad as among our foremost responsibilities. We have proved this in the past and shall continue to do so in the future as well,” he said.

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