Take Off (2017 film)

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Take Off
Take Off (2017 film).jpg
Take Off Poster
Directed byMahesh Narayanan
Written byMahesh Narayan
P. V. Shajikumar
Produced byAnto Joseph
Shebin Backer
Megha Rajesh
CinematographySanu John Varghese
Edited byMahesh Narayan
Abhilash Balachandran
Music bySongs:
Gopi Sunder
Shaan Rahman
Gopi Sunder
Distributed byAnto Joseph Film Company
Release date
  • 24 March 2017 (2017-03-24) (India)
Running time
139 minutes
Box office25 crore (US$3.1 million)[1]

Take Off is a 2017 Indian Malayalam-language survival thriller film, based on the ordeal of Indian nurses in the city of Tikrit, Iraq, in 2014.[2][3] The film is the directorial debut of editor Mahesh Narayan,[4] starring Parvathy Thiruvothu , Kunchacko Boban , Fahadh Faasil and Divya Prabha.[5] It is written by Mahesh Narayan and P. V. Shajikumar. The film was shot in various parts of Dubai and Kerala.[6]

Take Off was released on 24 March 2017, and received praise at the box office, winning the Silver Peacock - Special Jury Award for (Mahesh Narayan), and Silver Peacock for Best Actress (Parvathy) at the 48th IFFI.[7] Parvathy also won her first Special Jury Mention at the 65th National Film Awards, her second Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress, and a second Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Malayalam. It was included in The Hindu's top 25 Malayalam films of the decade.[8]


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 move to Iraq to join Tikrit Teaching College, which is 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 gets pregnant and needs to hide this from her first son, Ibrahim who is about to visit her for vacation. Surprisingly, Faizal also comes along to permanently hand over Ibrahim to Sameera due to issues in his family. Ibrahim finds it hard to accept Shaheed as his new step father and when he realizes that his mom has 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 is 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 with the local casualties over there. He consoles Sameera that it's a matter of two weeks which is sufficient for Ibrahim to get adjusted to his new realities and the mission is not dangerous as the army is along with them.

However within a day, Mosul falls 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 retreat 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 but remind them that it's a war zone and Indian Government has its own limitations in intervening.

While Sameera is in Baghdad, Tikrit falls into ISIS hands which they discover while coming back to hospital. ISIS militants kill the manager, while bringing 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 kill the doctor for not complying with them to treat wounded terrorists. Shaheed to save his life, offers medical assistance to wounded ISIS terrorists. Sameera starts informing about the tensed situation at Tikrit through her mobile to Kerala government. The Chief Minister of Kerala along with India's Foreign Affairs Minister starts briefing with the Ambassador. As there is no direct communication or normal diplomatic relationship with ISIS, Indian government has little chances of a formal route to intervene. Indian Government sends its Foreign Secretary to Iraq, who initially thinks that Iraqi Army will help the stranded nurses out of Tikrit. However the 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 is arranged to fetch all stranded nurses out of Tikrit. But, 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 is proven right when the bus gets caught in a crossfire near Mosul, killing all nurses. With just 19 Indian 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 all other nurses to declare themselves as Muslims, as ISIS terrorists might attack 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 Influential Saudi royal member and persuades him to make a deal with ISIS on India's behalf. Jayamohan, after hearing the nurses pleas over their satellite phone, rushes to meet Sheikh Salman, member of royal family, requesting his assistance to intervene with the ISIS . After a prolonged discussion, He agrees to broker on behalf of India unofficially without any record.

Meanwhile, at Mosul ISIS base, Sameera and nurses are brought before a main cleric, who test them to ensure they all are Muslims. Sameera's knowledge in Arabic, her son's knowledge in Quran and the coordinated Namaaz all help them to believe that the entire nurses are of Muslims and no harm is done. With the Royal'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 is able to rescue him from there. Sameera, Shaheed, Ibrahim and nurses are brought to Kurdistan from where India take them over in their buses and a special flight is arranged to take them back to Cochin from Erbil.

As the movie ends, actual footages of nurses reaching Cochin airport and their narration of experience under ISIS are depicted on the screen with a second climax scene where Jayamohan destroys 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.



Take Off
Soundtrack album by
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelGopi Sundar Music Company

The music is composed by Gopi Sundar and Shaan Rahman.[9]

1."Mohabathin"B.K.HarinarayananGopi SundarGopi Sundar, Divya S. Menon, Muhammad Maqbool Manzoor02:09
2."Pulkodiyil Thoomani"Rafeeq AhamedShaan RahmanHesham Abdul Wahab03:45
3."Ilavanka Poove"B.K.HarinarayananShaan RahmanShaan Rahman02:15
Total length:08:09
Take Off
Film score by
LabelGopi Sundar Music Company
ProducerGopi Sundar
Gopi Sundar chronology
Oru Mexican Aparatha
Take Off
The Great Father
External audio
audio icon Official Audio Jukebox on YouTube

The background score is composed by Gopi Sundar.

1."Love Theme 1"0:58
2."Love Theme 2"0:39
3."Family Theme"1:14
4."Happy Theme"0:52
5."Mother & Son Theme"0:59
6."Mother In Law Theme"0:44
7."Sameera's Emotional Cry Theme"0:35
8."At Militans Place Theme"1:20
9."Rescue Theme"0:45
10."Plans For The Rescue Theme 1"1:19
11."Plans For The Rescue Theme 2"0:58
12."Plans For The Rescue Theme 3"1:28
13."Plans For The Rescue Theme 4"1:42
14."Plans For The Rescue Theme 5"1:46
Total length:15:19

Box office[edit]

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.[10] 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.[1] 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.[11] The film ran for over 125 days in theatres


The Times Of India rated the film 4 out of 5 stars saying that "Take Off is a brilliant take on a real-life tale and with the director's own spin on the incidents, it makes an engaging cinematic experience that could give even Bollywood movies of similar genre, made at much-bigger budgets, a run for their money".[12] The News Minute rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and stated "With excellent performances and intelligent direction, Take Off is a must-watch".[13] Manorama Online rated the film 3.5 out of 5 stars saying that "Take Off is an absolute must-watch if you want to witness Mollywood's earnest attempt to fly new heights.[14]

Baradwaj Rangan of Film Companion South wrote "The film, thus, lands in a Roja-meets-Airlift zone. These portions are still very well done. The director isn't after your average rescue thriller. He wants to explore this chapter of recent history, and even through the fictionalising techniques, we sense documentary-like precision in the way information has been gathered and is now being disbursed to us...the production values are outstanding...the filmmaking is so precise, I jumped out of my skin."[15]

Difference between film and actual events[edit]

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.[16]
  • 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 Indian state of Kerala and A. Ajaya Kumar, the Indian Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq.[17] Her SOS messages helped the Indian officials in keeping track with the nurses.[18]
  • 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.[19]
  • 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 Ambassador 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.[20] 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."[19] But he didn't give any details of the nature of the help by the Keralite business community, citing security to the personnel involved.


In an event on April 20, 2020 Parvathy said that Islamophobia is a reality in Kerala and her films including Take Off are also part of that.[21] To this allegation, director Mahesh Narayanan responded that Parvathy doesn't know what Islamophobia is.[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of accolades received by Take Off
Parvathy's performance in Take Off garnered her several awards and nominations
Total number of awards and nominations[a]
Totals 25 31
Award Date of ceremony[b] Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Asianet Film Awards 20 May 2018 Most Popular Film Take Off Won [23]
Best Director Mahesh Narayanan Won
Best Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu Won
Critics Choice Best Actor Kunchacko Boban Won
Asiavision Awards 24 November 2017 Socially Committed movie Take Off Won [24]
Best Director Mahesh Narayanan Won
Best Music Director Gopi Sundar Won
CPC Cine Awards 18 February 2018 Best Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu Won [25]
Filmfare Awards South 16 June 2018 Best Film – Malayalam Take Off Nominated [26]
Best Director – Malayalam Mahesh Narayanan Nominated
Best Actress – Malayalam Parvathy Thiruvothu Won
Best Supporting Actor – Malayalam Kunchacko Boban Nominated
International Film Festival of India 20–28 November 2017 Special Jury Award Mahesh Narayanan Won [28]
Best Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu Won
Kerala State Film Awards 8 March 2018 Best Debut Director Mahesh Narayanan Won [29]
Best Art Director Santhosh Raman Won
Best Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu Won
Best Background Music Gopi Sundar Won
Best Makeup Artist Ranjith Ambady Won
National Film Awards 3 May 2018 Special Mention Award Parvathy Thiruvothu Won [30]
Best Production Design Santhosh Raman Won
North American Film Awards 7 May 2018 Critics Choice Best Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu Won [31]
Janapriya Thaaram Award Kunchacko Boban Won
South Indian International Movie Awards 14–15 September 2018 Best Film – Malayalam Take Off Nominated [32]
Best Director – Malayalam Mahesh Narayanan Nominated
Best Debut Director – Malayalam Won
Best Actress – Malayalam Parvathy Thiruvothu Won
Best Supporting Actor – Malayalam Kunchacko Boban Nominated
Vanitha Film Awards 25 February 2018 Best Film Take Off Won [35]
Best Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu Won
Best Family Hero Kunchacko Boban Won


  1. ^ Awards in certain categories do not have prior nominations and only winners are announced by the jury. For simplification and to avoid errors, each award in this list has been presumed to have had a prior nomination.
  2. ^ Date is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


  1. ^ a b Sudhi, C.J (4 August 2017). "Where is Malayalam cinema headed? 12 reasons to cheer". Malayala Manorama. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  2. ^ Jayaram, Deepika (27 January 2017). "The trailer of Take Off is trending now". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ "If you liked Akshay Kumar's Airlift, you will love Take Off trailer. Watch video". The Indian Express. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  4. ^ Jayaram, Deepika (27 February 2017). "Mahesh Narayanan's directorial debut is titled Take Off". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  5. ^ Suresh, Meera (21 February 2017). "Take Off is a thriller, but with emotions". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  6. ^ Sidhardhan, Sanjith (27 January 2017). "Team Take Off to shoot final schedule in Dubai". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  7. ^ Manoj Kumar R. (29 November 2017). "IFFI 2017: Parvathy, first Malayalam actor to win the silver peacock, gets emotional on stage". The Indian Express. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  8. ^ "The 25 best Malayalam films of the decade". The Hindu. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  9. ^ "The movie has both Shaan Rahman and Gopi Sunder in the music department". The New Indian Express. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  10. ^ Abhijith (5 April 2017). "Kamal Haasan Enjoyed Watching Take Off!". Filmibeat.com. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Take Off (2017)". Box Office Mojo. 25 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Take off Movie Review {4/5}: The film's strength apart from Parvathy's stellar performance is the script". The Times of India.
  13. ^ "Review: "Take Off", a powerful film based on real events in Iraq under the ISIS is a must-watch". 24 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Take Off movie review: firm on ground". Malayala Manorama. 30 March 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Take Off Movie Review". Film Companion. 25 March 2017.
  16. ^ Correspondent, DC (5 July 2014). "LIVE: Plane carrying 46 Indian nurses, freed by ISIS militants, takes off for Kochi". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  17. ^ "A. Ajay Kumar appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Iraq". Ministry of External Affairs, India. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  18. ^ Sidhardhan, Sanjith (17 March 2017). "I didn't think I'd be alive, let alone live to see my tale being told on the silverscreen: Marina Jose". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  19. ^ a b Isaac, Anna; Balan, Saritha S (30 March 2017). "As "Take Off" suggests, did a Malayali businessman help in rescuing nurses from Iraq". The News Minute. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Nearly 5,000 Indians rescued from Iraq so far: Sushma Swaraj". Zee News. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  21. ^ Manorama, On (20 January 2020). "Islamophobia a reality in Kerala, was part of my films too: Parvathy". The Week. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  22. ^ Buzz, Movie (6 March 2020). "'Parvathy doesn't know what Islamophobia is', says director Mahesh Narayanan". Sify. Archived from the original on 6 March 2020. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  23. ^ "20th Asianet Film Awards". The News Minute. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Asiavision Movie Awards 2017". International Business Times. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  25. ^ "CPC Cine Awards Winners 2018". The New Indian Express. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  26. ^ "Nominations for the 65th Jio Filmfare Awards (South) 2018". Filmfare. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  27. ^ "Winners of 65th Jio Filmfare Awards (South) 2018". The Times of India. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  28. ^ "IFFI 2017 winners list". The Indian Express. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Kerala State Film Awards 2017". Indian Express. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  30. ^ "65th National Film Awards". Indian Express. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  31. ^ "North American Film Award 2018 Winners". North American Film Award. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  32. ^ "SIIMA Awards 2018 nominations". Firstpost. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  33. ^ "SIIMA Awards: Here are the winners from Malayalam". Malayala Manorama. 15 September 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  34. ^ "SIIMA 2018 Malayalam Winners". South Indian International Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  35. ^ "വനിത ഫിലിം അവാര്‍ഡ് 2018: ഫഹദ് മികച്ച നടൻ, മഞ്ജു വാരിയർ, പാർവതി മികച്ച നടിമാർ". Malayala Manorama. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.(in Malayalam)

External links[edit]