Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Bell Bottom: Did you know the Akshay Kumar spy movie is inspired by these real-life hijackings of Indian Airlines flights back in the 80s?

Akshay Kumar's Bell Bottom trailer dropped yesterday, 3rd August, to a rousing reception, with both the audience and industry insiders going gaga over what looks like a thrilling plot, the potential espionage games and, most importantly, the right patriotic fervour, apt for an occasion like India's Independence Day. However, did you notice a crucial caveat in the trailer that really put the cat among the pigeons: “Inspired by true events”, similar to Akshay Kumar's Airlift, a masterpiece of the actor, though not similar to another spy movie of his, Baby, no less a masterpiece on its own. So, what exactly are these true events that have inspired Bell Bottom? Check them out below: 

So, as per the Bell Bottom trailer the events are set in 1984, and the plot supposedly revolves around a covert mission to foil the plans of a terrorist outfit who've hijacked a plane, and as per what ex-PM Indira Gandhi, played by Lara Dutta, states in the trailer, it's the seventh kidnapping in five years, and truth be told, the 80s were notorious for plane hijacks, owing to the lax airport security, which all changed post 9/11. Sonam Kapoor's Neerja, too, was based on the real-life hijack of Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986. 

Coming back to Bell Bottom, from what we've gathered through the trailer, two hijacking had occurred in the the year, 1984, the first being Indian Airlines flight IC-405, which was diverted to Lahore, Pakistan on 6th July, and the second, Indian Airlines Boeing 736, about 40-45 days later, which was hijacked in Chandigarh en route from Delhi to Srinagar.

In the first case, the hijackers freed the passengers 22 hours later after a change of heart, but in the second instance, the plane was diverted to three separate locations – Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan, followed by Dubai, UAE – as they demanded the release of Sikh separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and five other accomplices. Reports suggest that after lengthy negotiations, the hijackers finally released the reaming 79 passengers and six crew members, after five passengers were released earlier in Lahore and two in Karachi.

04/08/21 Russel D'Silva/

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