Take Off (2017 film)
Take Off Poster
|Directed by||Mahesh Narayan|
P. V. Shajikumar
|Cinematography||Sanu John Varghese|
|Distributed by||Anto Joseph Film Company|
|Box office||₹25 crore|
Take Off is a 2017 Indian drama thriller film, based on the ordeal of Indian nurses in the city of Tikrit, Iraq, in 2014. The film is the directorial debut of editor Mahesh Narayan, with Parvathy , Kunchacko Boban and Fahadh Faasil starring in the lead roles. It is written by Mahesh Narayan and P. V. Shajikumar. The film was shot in various parts of Dubai and Kerala. Take Off was released on 24 March 2017. The film was a blockbuster at the box office. The film won a Special Jury Award at the 48th International Film Festival of India and Parvathy won the award for Best Female Actor, becoming the first ever Indian film actor to win the award. For her most notable performance as Sameera, Parvathy also received her second Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress, a second Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Malayalam and her first Special Jury Mention at the National Film Awards.
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Sameera is a nurse in Kerala who is moving to Iraq for better salary. Her husband, Faizal and family members were not supportive of her wish to work to pillar her family who have taken loans for her nursing education and struggling to repay. They finally get divorced after their differences leaving her son Ibrahim under Faizal's care. Shaheed, a colleague from work understands all her problems and wishes to marry her. Though Sameera is initially hesitant about another marriage, the two get married before moving to Iraq. They along with a group of 19 nurses of same hospital moves to Iraq to join Tikrit Teaching College, which was an Iraqi Government Hospital.
Moving to Iraq, they realize Iraq is no more a peaceful country as projected during interview time, with conflicts rising on daily basis. The doctors are over-strained with rise of casualties. Sameera's knowledge in Arabic helps her to communicate better with Arabic doctors and she leads the nurses group in their new working environment and challenges. In mean time, she got pregnant and need to hide this from her first son, Ibrahim who is due to come for his vacation with Sameera. Surprisingly for this vacation, Faizal also came along with son as part of permanently handing over Ibrahim to Sameera due to issues in his family. Ibrahim finds hard to accept Shaheed as his new step father and when he realizes that his mom got remarried, he runs out of their quarters only to see the city is now a major riot zone with pro-ISIS supporters uprising against Iraqi Central Government in the city. He was brought back to quarters by Sameera. Shaheed feels that Ibrahim needs some time alone with Sameera to realize the new environment. For this, he offers his assistance to Army medical team moving to Mosul to deal the local casualties over there. He consoles Sameera that its a matter of two weeks which is sufficient for Ibrahim to get adjusted to his new realities and the mission is not dangerous as army is along with them.
However within a day, Mosul fell into hands of ISIS and the medical team is taken into captive. News gets flashed and Sameera pleads with hospital management to help in rescuing her husband. As Iraqi forces retreats from Mosul, the Iraqi government is no longer in position to help. The Hospital manager advises Sameera to seek assistance of Indian Embassy in Baghdad. Sameera along with manager visits Embassy where she meets Indian Ambassador Manoj Abraham. They promise assistance though reminded that its a war zone and Indian Government has its own limitations in intervening.
While Sameera was in Baghdad, Tikrit fell into ISIS hands which they discover while coming back to hospital. ISIS militants kills the manager, while bring Sameera back to hospital to join with other nurses who are now captives of ISIS. Sameera relays this matter to Indian Embassy and calls out for help, which brings the matter to serious concern of both Indian Government and Kerala Government, as all nurses were from Kerala state.
In meantime at Mosul, ISIS terrorists kills the doctor for not complying with them to treat wounded terrorists. Shaheed to save his life, offers medical assistance to wounded ISIS terrorists. Sameera started keeping informed about the tensed situation at Tikrit thro' her mobile to Kerala government. The Chief Minister of Kerala along with India's Foreign Affairs Minister started briefing with Ambassador. As there is no direct communication or normal diplomatic relationships exist with ISIS, India government has little chances of a formal route to intervene. India Government sends its Foreign Secretary to Iraq, who initially thinks that Iraqi Army will help the stranded nurses out of Tikrit. However Ambassador doesn't join on that and assumes full responsibility to rescue. Meanwhile International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement offers their assistance and a bus was arranged to fetch all stranded nurses out of Tikrit. However as they need to pass through extreme violent war zones of Mosul, Indian Embassy cancels permission, which results only Indian Nurses stranding in Tikrit, while other nationalities taken out. However the decision of Indian Embassy proved right when the bus get caught in a crossfire near Mosul, killing all nurses. With just Indian 19 nurses stranded in Tikrit, ISIS decides to use them as human shields and plan to take them to their key base Mosul. India responds by dropping food packets near hospital, but one packet contains a secret satellite phone with location detector which Sameera take over to correspond with Crisis Command center at Indian Embassy.
Ambassador Manoj instructs Sameera to destroy all passports and documents that reveal their identity and asked to all of the nurses to declare themselves as Muslims as ISIS terrorists might kill non Muslims among them. Sameera teaches all other nurses basic religious things like Namaz and covering the head as well as hiding all religious symbols. Meantime, Kerala Government along with its Foreign affairs agency- NORKA brings in a prominent Malayalee Businessman- Jayamohan of Crescent Group who have close links with Saudi Royal Family to persuade the Royal Family to broker with ISIS on India's behalf. Jayamohan, after hearing the nurses pleas over their satellite phone, rushes to Riyadh's Erga Palace to meet then-the Crown prince Salman of Saudi, requesting his assistance to intervene as Saudis being a major financial handler to ISIS at the time. Initially Saudi Prince refuses. After a prolonged discussion, Saudi agrees to broker on behalf of India unofficially without any record.
Meanwhile at Mosul ISIS base, Sameera and nurses were brought before a main cleric, who tests them to ensure they all are Muslims. Sameera's knowledge in Arabic, her son's knowledge in Quran and the coordinated Namaaz all helped them to believe that the entire nurses are of Muslims and no harm was done. With Saudi's intervention, a secret deal was drawn between India and ISIS. ISIS agrees to transfer the nurses to Erbil near the Kurdistan Check Point. Meanwhile with Sameera's persistence, she finds out Shaheed among ISIS captives who were about to be executed and with her pleas, she was able to rescue him from there. Sameera, Shaheed, Ibrahim and nurses were brought to Kurdistan from where India took over them in their buses and a special flight was arranged to take back to Cochin from Erbil.
As the movie ends, actual footages of nurses reaching Cochin airport and their narration of experience under ISIS shows on the screen with a second climax scene where Jayamohan destroying the documents that reveal the secret deal between India and ISIS with a voice over that it shall remain as a classified secret of India.
- Parvathy as Sameera
- Kunchacko Boban as Shaheed
- Fahadh Faasil as Manoj, Indian Ambassador to Iraq
- Divyaprabha as Jincy
- Prakash Belawadi as Secretary of External Affairs, Govt of India
- Asif Ali as Faizal ( extended cameo)
- Parvathi T as Shaheed's mother
- Anjali Aneesh as Shaheed's sister
- Prem Prakash as Jayamohan, Crescent Group CEO
- Rukhsar Rehman
- Alencier Ley Lopez as Sameera's father
- Devi Ajith as Dr. Susan
- Sreeja Das as Daisy
- Vishnu Prakash as Sameera's Uncle
- Joju George as One Nurse's husband (cameo)
- Sidhartha Siva as Doctor (cameo)
Difference between film and actual events
The film was inspired by the real events which happened in 2014, during the early days of the ISIS crisis in Iraq. At the same time, it's a work of fiction. The incidents close to the reality starts just about the close to the interval. The incidents depicted there after is very graphic in nature and also match with how the story unfolded in the real life.
- The story in the second half tells us how a group of nurses who were working at a hospital in Tikrit, an Iraqi town near Mosul, Iraq were rescued from the captivity of terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is a real incident. However in movie the group consists of 19 nurses, while in reality the group had 46 members.
- Parvathy's character Sameera is loosely based on Marina Jose who played an instrumental role in the rescue operation. Marina was in touch with Oommen Chandy, then Chief minister of the southern Indian state of Kerala and A. Ajaya Kumar, the Indian Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq. Her SOS messages helped the Indian officials in keeping track with the nurses.
- Another decision that perhaps made the crucial difference was stopping the nurses from travelling with a Red Cross rescue operation. This incident was later confirmed by the Chief minister of Kerala.
- In the movie, at the peak of the tension, the group was seen as being relocated by the militants to Mosul. This match with the real incident.
- The movie shows a reluctant Keralite business man was persuaded by the Indian Amabassador into using his close ties with the Saudi Royal Family to get them talk to the militants. While this was speculated by media during the days after the successful rescue of the nurses, India's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj refuted this in the Parliament of India. However former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has later confirmed that, "Malayali NRI businessmen in the Middle East have helped significantly in the release of Malayali nurses from the war-hit regions of Iraq and Libya. The situation as you know was critical and some of our businessmen extended help." But he didn't give any details of the nature of the help by the Keralite business community, citing security to the personnel involved.
- Mohabbathin - Gopi Sundar, Divya S. Menon, Mohammed Maqbool Mansoor - Gopi Sundar
- Pulkodiyil - Hesham Abdul Wahab - Shaan Rahman
- Iravonnu Poove - Shaan Rahman - Shaan Rahman
Release and reception
Take Off was released on 24 March 2017. Satyam Audios released the VCD, DVD and Blu Ray of the film in mid 2017.
Celebrities praised the movie, including actor Kamal Haasan. The film was screened at international festivals, including International Film Festival of India and International Film Festival of Kerala.
The film grossed ₹25 crore at the box office. The film collected $853,101 from UAE box office in its three weekends,$21,248 from UK box office and $9,918 from New Zealand box office. The film ran for over 125 days in theatres
It won the following awards:
- IFFI Special Jury Award - Mahesh Narayan
- Silver Peacock for the Best Actor Award (Female) - Parvathy
- Best Debut Director - Mahesh Narayan
- Best Actress - Parvathy
- Best Background Music - Gopi Sundar
- Best Art Director - Santhosh Raman
- Best Makeup Artist - Ranjith Ambady
- Special Jury Mention - Parvathy
- Special Jury Mention - Take Off 
- Best Production Design - Santhosh Raman
- Filmfare Award for Best Film - Take Off
- Filmfare Award for Best Director - Malayalam - Mahesh Narayan
- Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor - Malayalam - Kunchacko Boban
- Best Director- Mahesh Narayan
- Best Actress - Parvathy
- Most Popular Film - Take Off
- Asianet Critics Award for Best Actor - Kunchacko Boban
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