‘RUNWAY 34’ REVIEW | 29 April, 2022

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Ajay Devgn Ffilms’ Runway 34 (UA) is the story of a pilot who has to take some important decisions when landing the aircraft is a near-impossibility due to inclement weather.

Captain Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgan) and his co-pilot, Tanya Albuquerque (Rakul Preet Singh), are in the cockpit on board a flight from Dubai to Cochin. Just before landing at Cochin airport, they realise that the weather and visibility in Cochin are so poor that it would be impossible to make a safe landing there. The flight has to be diverted. To add to the tension, the city to which it is diverted is also hit by inclement weather. Besides, the aircraft is running out of fuel. Captain Khanna takes some tough decisions but he is answerable to the AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau) once he lands. He is accused of endangering the lives of 150 passengers. Questioning his actions is Narayan Vedant (Amitabh Bachchan). What is the outcome of Captain Khanna’s decisions on board the aircraft, and what is the jury’s decision on his decisions?

The film is inspired by Hollywood film Sully. It is based on true happenings. Sandeep Kewlani’s story is not only interesting and engaging, it is also pretty exciting. However, the excitement reduces once the courtroom drama begins. The screenplay, written by Sandeep Kewlani and Aamil Keeyan Khan, is tight in the first half when it concentrates on the drama inside the aircraft in the midst of inclement weather. The fear of the passengers and the anguish of the cabin crew keep the audiences on the edge of their seats as they become a part of the tension-ridden in-flight drama. However, once the scene shifts to the courtroom, the tension reduces, which is a drawback of the two writers. For any courtroom drama to succeed big time, it is very necessary that the viewers have high points in the courtroom to applaud. However, in the courtroom drama in the film, the audience does not find too many claptraps or points to applaud. There is a point in the arguments (about the ATC Cochin team not sending the required information to Captain Khanna) which has not been played up enough even though it is a very vital point. There is another point about the death of the asthmatic patient, which ought to have been given a conclusion not just for Captain Khanna but for all the others too. That doesn’t happen. Also, the writers are not able to convince the viewers well enough that Captain Khanna could be in the wrong. Because of this, the viewers do not invest in the belief carried by Narayan Vedant as, in their opinion, Captain Khanna is a hero. For this reason, the audience is unable to get involved cent per cent in the courtroom drama. The track of the owner of the airlines, for which Captain Khanna and Tanya work as pilots, appears quite unnecessary in the main story. Also, the climax is not half as exhilarating as it ought to have been. No doubt, the confrontation scenes between Narain Vedant and Captain Vikrant Khanna and between Narayan Vedant and Tanya Albuquerque are entertaining but the entertainment comes more from the dialogues than the scenes. In that sense, Sandeep Kewlani and Aamil Keeyan Khan’s dialogues are very good. Overall, the screenplay is replete with technical terminology due to which it becomes very class-appealing. Therefore, there is little in the drama, for the masses and family audiences.

Ajay Devgan looks dashing as a pilot and acts with effortless ease. He looks every inch the pilot he plays. Amitabh Bachchan, who makes an entry only in the second half, is excellent as Narayan Vedant. His dialogue delivery and performance are superb. Rakul Preet Singh gets limited scope but is nevertheless good as Tanya Albuquerque. Boman Irani has his moments as the owner of the airlines for which Captain Khanna and Tanya work. But his track is not too material in the main story. Aakanksha Singh has her moments as Vikrant Khanna’s wife. Angira Dhar makes her presence felt in the role of Radhika Roy.

Ajay Devgan’s direction is excellent in the pre-interval portion but, like the script, his narration also loses grip post-interval. He has not been able to give the audience a satisfying and fulfilling courtroom drama. Perhaps, a drama with flashbacks would’ve kept the audience more interested as they would have probably been in a dilemma about whether they should be on Captain Khanna’s side or Narayan Vedant’s. The film has very little scope for music but Jasleen Royal’s ‘Mitra re’ song is very well-tuned. Aditya Sharma’s lyrics are in synch with the mood of the drama. Amar Mohile’s background music serves to increase the impact of the tension. Aseem Bajaj’s cinematography is excellent. Production designing (Sujeet Subhash Sawant and Sriram Kannan Iyengar) is of a lovely standard. Computer graphics are good. Dharmendra Sharma’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Runway 34 is a class-appealing film. Looking to its heavy cost (a huge amount of money has been spent on computer graphics, among other things), the film will not be able to do commensurate business at the ticket windows. Flop.

Released on 29-4-’22 at Inox (daily 7 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay thru Panorama Studios. Publicity: very good. Opening: dull. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark at most of the places.