Language : Hindi
Director : Ajay Devgn
Writers : Sandeep Kewlani(dialogue). Aamil Keeyan Khan(dialogue)
Cast : Ajay Devgn, Amitabh Bachchan, Rakul Preet Singh.
Genre : Drama | Thriller
Runway 34 from Ajay Devgn is an appreciable attempt that manages to hold the attention of its viewers till the very end. But as the final credits rolled, I thought to myself, ‘was this aviation flick successful in exploring its full potential?’. The answer was ‘No’.
Inspired by the 2015 Jet Airways 9W555, Doha to Kochi Mayday incident, Runway 34 presents a partially fictitious tale of the event and its after-effects on the personnel involved.
The plot is reminiscent of the 2016 film Sully: Miracle on the Hudson which made for an absolutely gripping watch from start to finish and instantly achieved classic status. Runway 34 on the other hand, had all the ingredients to be a first-rate film but a few decisions in the screenplay pull it down from being one.
The film handles two different genres – an aviation thriller in the first and a courtroom drama in the second where it struggles to reach the highs of the initial half. Since all the incidents leading up to the Mayday call are already covered in detail during the initial half, the courtroom drama never really raises the stakes beyond a point. As a result, the revelations that pop up during the trial aren’t as significant as the makers conceived them to be. This made me think if the team had decided to follow the screenplay pattern of Sully where the actual incident and the courtroom proceedings play out in parallel, keeping the viewers guessing about the actual truth. A technique that could have helped the film maintain a steady tempo throughout the narrative. In its current form, the tension drops in the second half because we are somewhat able to reason with the actions of Capt. Vikrant and hence the wait for the final verdict isn’t captivating enough.
Even in the first half which succeeds in thrillingly depicting the entire tension, the performances of the passengers are hammy. It’s also funny to notice that a flight to Kochi had almost no Malayali passengers on board. CG during multiple occasions in the courtroom looked tacky in comparison to the superior work in the flight sequences.
The film has its fair share of positives too. The idea to commercialize the character played by Ajay was a good thought as it elevates the entertainment quotient. I was amazed at how the team pulled off the landing shots as they looked real and glitch-free in terms of execution. In fact, most of the in-flight sequences are shot with good attention to detail and quality. The performances are a big asset especially Ajay Devgn who with his expressions and dialogue delivery is totally convincing as the confident pilot. Amitabh Bachchan gets a one-tone character but is a joy to watch. Truth be told, it’s his presence that piques the curiosity in the minds of the audience during the latter half of the film.
Ajay as a director continues from where he left with Shivaay. Shivaay was a mixed bag in terms of execution. While some shots stood out, certain experimental ones turned out to be poor. The balance is better this time around and the output of the aviation portions has come out well, especially the all-important ‘blind landing’ sequence. The other technical aspects are good but again the screenplay could have been rethought to arrive at a superior product.
Runway 34 is definitely a watchable flick. It’s like one of those air journeys where the ascend and descend are comfortable but the overall experience is just above average.
Verdict : 3/7 stars
Film’s title was changed from Mayday to Runway 34 as Ajay Devgan felt people will fail to understand the title. Mayday is actually a protocol use by airline industry in case of emergency.
In order to create curiosity, the makers have kept Bachchan’s character details under tight wrap.
The film is inspired by the true event of the Jet Airways Doha to Kochi flight 9W 555, a Boeing 737-800 which had narrow escape on 18th August 2015.