Story: The flying skills of Captain Dibyendu Rakshit (Dev) are tested to the limit when the passenger plane he’s flying from Mumbai to Kolkata starts depressurising mid-air and really bad weather and strong crosswinds make emergency landing next to impossible.
Review: It’s a spectacle that flies into uncharted skies of Bengali cinema. And maybe, just maybe, leaves a hint of a bigger spectacle to come — the adventures of Captain Dibyendu Rakshit’s child in outer space? If that happens, it will be quite a shake-up. Then again, Cockpit appears to be an adventurous day in the life of Captain Dibakar Rakshit’s (Prosenjit) son, which also leaves room for a prequel. That’s intelligent cinema — a rarity in an industry full of mindless remakes, aantel dramas and oversexed thrillers, which have been systematically pushing the audience away from theatres.
Like Dev’s earlier production, Chaamp, Cockpit is an adrenaline rush. The mid-air drama is never over-dramatised — there are no hysterical passengers and no superhuman heroics; in fact, at times it seems the passengers are under-reacting. But their interactions, even the funny ones, add to the excitement in small quanta, making the bigger picture quite dramatic.
But unlike the pure visual rush of a Chander Pahar or a Chaamp, Cockpit relies heavily on VFX. That’s the only chink in its armour. The visual effects are fine till the climactic sequence, in which the plane makes an emergency landing. The way the plane behaves on the runway seems to defy all laws of physics. After the preceding ordeal, no plane can possibly taxi to a landing and that too, in one piece. The worst visual is that of the left wing grinding against the runway, sending sparks flying. After such a hard brush, the plane should have swung left and crashed on its nose, given that the right wing was being lifted by a strong crosswind. But it stabilises and lands on it wheels, which, too, are intact. It’s apparent that the VFX team has used too much imagination and little science. Moreover, the situation inside the cabin doesn’t reflect the harsh reality outside. That’s rank amateurish in a film that otherwise has all other departments covered.
The shoddy VFX, however, does little damage to the thrilling drama Cockpit is. It’s suave and racy from the word go, never pausing for nyaka theatrics, and has songs and dance sequences that don’t feel like bolts from the blue. Then there are the great performances, especially that of Rukmini, who plays the temperamental, alcoholic airhostess, Kriti Sachdev. Coming from a broken family, she’s insecure, clingy and when rejected, vengeful. That she’s a natural is visible yet again (after her debut, Chaamp) as she sails through the extreme emotions that define Kriti. Even Dev approaches his character with maturity, never trying to go overboard with emotions. Kamaleshwar knows his actor and his limitations, which is quite visible. But yes, it’s high time Dev worked on his English as much as he does on his muscles. Despite playing the rest of Dibs perfectly, he falters when it comes to barking orders in English — a norm in the aviation industry. Some words can be barely understood.
As for Koel, she’s done justice to her role as Dibs’ wife, Riya. Her role doesn’t demand too much, but within its boundaries, she shines. Prosenjit makes the most of his guest appearance, playing a seasoned pilot whose life revolves around planes. The passengers, including Priyanka and Paran, have done fine, and so has Roja as Kriti’s roommate, colleague and friend. However, Raj’s performance makes one feel he should stick to direction and Shataf seems a bit too stylish and unhurried as an air traffic controller handling a near-crash situation.
Overall, Cockpit is definitely a must watch. Just don’t walk in expecting a Sully or a Flight, and you’ll walk out feeling thoroughly entertained. Happy flying.