at first, runway 34 looks like a partial remake of the award-winning movie denzel washington’s flight (2012), which was based on a seasoned pilot who saved his commercial flight from crashing, but was investigated for possibly consuming alcohol and drugs.
“inspired by true events” does fargo-esque heavy lifting in this directing and starring effort from ajay devgn, as we are introduced to his character, ace pilot vikrant khanna. Khanna has an eidetic memory with over 16,000 flight hours to his name, but he’s been flying for six straight days and wants to go home.
so the night before his next flight from dubai to kochi, he takes advantage by joining his friend in a long night of clubbing and binge drinking, preparing what’s to come during the flight like sleep – private khanna makes some risky decisions under adverse weather conditions.
the flight itself lives up to the survival thrills that track 34 promises, but the developer’s script and direction are its worst enemy, as the horrendous attempts at comedy, with a cameo from youtuber carryminati, they get in the way. As a result, the big miraculous landing moment has long since become cheap, as any attempt to involve yourself in the characters’ fates fails.
Also read: Hindi is not a national language. ajay devgn ‘stunt’ arrives at the time of rrr, kgf, pushpa megahits
pass the track
Track 34’s central problem is its disjointedness, as it wastes its 148-minute running time by overloading the narrative. The flight sequence is pieced together with a cheesy investigative drama directed by Amitabh Bachchan and an underdeveloped subplot, featuring Boman Irani and Angira Dhar, about the financial situation of the airline.
Among all these big names, however, the only decent performance in the film comes from Rakul Preet Singh, who plays Khanna’s co-pilot, Tanya Albuquerque.
Once you get past the tired jokes about the syllables in his last name and connections to the American city, you see a realistic and relatable portrayal of a competent but inexperienced pilot doing his best to deal with an older adult. arrogant but has a panic attack. when the situation starts to look dire.
albuquerque’s character arc is ultimately a refreshing break from bachchan constantly reminding us of his bilingual thesaurus prowess in front of an aviation accident investigation bureau (aaib) jury, and the intrigues lazily typed irani and dhar to kill off the investigation and save the company from bachchan probing questions.
As uncreative as it sounds, runway 34 might have worked better as a remake of the flight. but then devgn’s character would have to really and honestly engage with his deep personal flaws instead of just indulging in a falsely heroic spiel about him caring too much about his career and the safety of his passengers. but we can’t risk such nuanced representations, can we? As unconvincingly as Devgn’s arguments promoting Hindi as the national language, Runway 34 has time to introduce some supposedly miraculous twists in the film’s third act.
With a more talented director and writing team, we could have had an interesting and introspective look at the nostalgia, stress or systemic failures in the aviation space. instead, what we get is another average, at best, conventional movie that justifies its protagonist’s transgressions through messages like “the country doesn’t deserve to lose its greatest talent.”
The next “true story” to be dramatized by devgn this summer is Maidaan, a biopic about manager Syed Abdul Rahim, who presided over the golden age of Indian football. Given that amit sharma of badhaai ho fame is behind the camera there, one can only hope he and devgn make the landing.