Thursday, February 4, 2021

"Take Off" Brutality in Tikrit

The title "Take Off" is taken from the end of the movie when the horror is finally relieved and the victims take off for home.  It is a brutal movie about an unfortunate time in world history.  It recreates events of 2014 when ISIS captured Tikrit trapping several nurses and follows through to the rescue of 19 Mayali nurses.

Throughout the movie the nurses are asked why they want to go to Iraq.  One young nurse explained that her parents borrowed money for her education, but after graduation her salary would not cover the interest.  The main character, Sameera has divorced her husband, told by her father not to go, married a fellow nurse and shortly after learned she is pregnant.  Complicating matters she has a son who is scheduled to visit her in Iraq during his vacation.  At the time her first husband who is nice enough explains that he has had some major setbacks in his business and says their son should stay with her.  The son is mystified and then rebellious seeing his mother's new "friend."  Her son is part of the experience and is accepting of his new circumstances.  At one point he is the one who saves the whole group because he can finish a verse from Qu'ran used to test if all the nurses were Muslim (they weren't).

The viewer is confronted with violence when the nurses first arrive in Tikrit.  We see torn limbs, bloodied faces and chaos in the space.  ISIS takes over the hospital and we encounter random violence and the nurses enduring the whims of fanatics.  The nurses are trapped.  Not only are they needed for the ISIS soldiers they are also seen as a shield.  Diplomatic negotiations take place involving India and Saudi Arabia before with the aid of subterfuges.  Only Sameera is Muslim and speaks Arabic and is counted on to organize and coach the other nurses.  She is motivated to reunite with her husband who has been caught up at another ISIS camp and cannot be located.  The key negotiator decided he must lie to Sameera to keep her motivated.

If you have a weak stomach you will find much of this movie very difficult.  Personally the random violence is what freaks me out the most.  

The main dialogues in the movie are in Malayalam with English subtitles, but there are significant conversations in English and some words in Arabic (with Malayalam subtitles).

Mahesh Narayan was director, writer and co-editor.  After graduating from film school he started editing advertisements, than documentaries, then feature films.  He ventured from his native Malaylam language to successfully deal with Tamil, Telegu and Hindi films.  He edited "Traffic" (Malayalm version 2011),  "Traffic" (Hindi version 2017), and Uyare (2019).  He turned to writing and directing with this film to continue those two roles in subsequent films.   He produced, wrote, directed, edited and used a virtual camera for "C U Soon" "Uyare" was my second favorite film seen in 2019.  Read more:

Shaan Rahman shared music duties with Gopi Sundar.  Shaan won an award in 2015 for most streamed film song.   Gopi's career included backup singer and music director.  He wrote for "Uyare" and won a best background score for this movie.  He composed music for "C U Soon."

Sanu John Varughese handled the cinematography.  He had worked on such films as "Karthik Calling Karthik" (2010), "Hasee Toh Phasee" (2014), "Wazir" (2016) and has gone onto to do "Badhaal Ho" (2018)

Parvathy  Thiruvothu who plays Sameera is a prolific  award winner including for this film.  Some of her films include  "Qarib Qarib Single" (2017),"Uyare" (2019) and"Virus" (2019).   She is an amazing actress becoming one of my favorites.

Fahadh Faasil played the key negotiator  for the India Embassy who despite criticism made the right choices.   He started his film career with a head start as his father was a Malayalam director and gave him a role at age 19 in 2002.  Unfortunately it was a commercial failure and Fahadh opted to complete his education in the United State.  He made his comeback in 2009 with "Kerala Cafe."  Since then he has been very busy with films including:  "Bangalore Days"  (2014), "Njan Prakashan" (2018),  "Super Deluxe" (2019) and "C U Soon" (2020).

Kunchacko Boban played Sameera's second husband, also a nurse who went to Iraq and got separated by being sent to Mosul.  In his first film Kunchacko became an instant teenage heart throb and continued his popularity in romantic films till he himself graduated from college and sought more serious roles with depth.  He appeared in "Traffic" (2011) and "Virus" (2019).

Prakash Belawadi played a senior member of the Indian Embassy.  He has been in films with many different languages including:  in Hindu, "Talvar" (2015), "Airlift" (2016), "Wazir" (2016) and "Sanju" (2018); in Kannada, ""Aatagara (2015) and "India vs. England" (2020); in Telegu. "Saaho" (2019); and in Tamil, "Soorarai Pottru" (2020).

At the time of viewing I was only able to catch it on Hotstar.  One of those treasures hard to reach without the connections.

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