Airlift

In 1990, Indian businessman Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is a successful Kuwait-based businessman who is very well-connected with officials in Kuwait and Baghdad, and makes a happy home with his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and their daughter Simu. He calls himself a Kuwaiti and is often derisive towards Indians.

After a night of partying, Ranjit is woken up to a phone call from his friend and receives word that negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait have collapsed, and Iraqi troops have begun their invasion of Kuwait. Iraq owes a large debt to Kuwait after the Iran–Iraq War and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq had urged Kuwait during earlier talks to reduce their oil supply so prices can rise in the market and Iraq can stabilize their economy. When Kuwait refused, and began slant-drilling into Iraqi oil fields, Saddam ordered the attack. That morning, Ranjit discovers that Kuwait is now mostly overrun by the Iraqi Army. Ranjit and Nair, his driver, go out and drive to the Indian embassy in an attempt to take their family and leave Kuwait. They are stopped by Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint and Nair is shot dead amidst the confusion. A shocked Ranjit is then taken to the Emir’s palace. There he meets Iraqi Republican Guard officer Major Khalaf bin Zayd (Inaamulhaq), who reveals that he was the one who pulled up to the checkpoint earlier and prevented Ranjit from any harm. Major Khalaf, who knows Ranjit from Ranjit’s visits to Iraq, chides him but extends his personal friendship, ensuring Ranjit and his family’s safety from the soldiers.

From there, Ranjit goes to the Indian embassy where he learns that the Kuwaiti government has fled into exile. Some 170,000 Indians in Kuwait are now stranded as refugees. Iraqi forces continue to push through Kuwait and Ranjit’s mansion is raided by Iraqi soldiers, but his wife and child manage to escape to his office. Ranjit convinces his friends to work together, and they set up a makeshift camp for some 500 Indians with Major Khalaf’s permission. Amrita urges Ranjit to use his leverage to extricate his own family, but Ranjit, who ordinarily would have just looked out for himself, appears to have a change of heart. He decides to stay and help the other Indians leave Kuwait.

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