Thursday, January 28, 2016

Airlifted from Kuwait

Kochi: Akshay Kumar claims to have lived the life of Mathunny Mathews in his head for nine long months, while essaying the real character in the current Bollywood flick Airlift. Mathunny Mathews (popularly known as Toyota Sunny), at 80, is indisposed, but pleased that the actor has celebrated his efforts, along with that of several others, in their herculean task of organising and co-ordinating the evacuation of 1, 70,000 stranded Indians during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The film is the story of their heroic efforts, with him in lead, and of India’s largest, record-setting humanitarian evacuation in the history of the world. The film has caught Indians by their heart.

Little did Sunny, who hails from Kumbanad in Pathanamthitta and who began life in Kuwait as a 20-year-old, know that his story would stoke such patriotic fervour.

“My father has not seen the movie but he is pretty emotional that it has become very popular. I have seen it and am proud that it was made and in turn has found some recognition for my father’s efforts. Of course, he is not alone in this and other people also need to be credited,” says James, Mathunny’s son.

Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar), is an influential businessman in Kuwait, who with his contacts and familiarity with the land, organises a labour camp that shelters fleeing Indians during the 1990 war. He simultaneously negotiates with the Iraqi government and co-ordinates with the Indian government enabling the safe passage of Indians. The entire movement in real life took 488 Air India flights in 59 days and is the largest humanitarian evacuation in the world.
27/01/16 Priyadershini S/The Hindu
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