Nimrat Kaur is back on the Hindi screen after a long hiatus – her last and the one that put her on the acting map ‘The Lunch Box’ was released in 2013. Of course, she was busy the following year with season 3 of the hit series ‘Homeland’. But after that Nimrat says she didn’t find anything interesting enough to sign on in Bollywood.
‘I was away more than half a year for American tele series ‘Homeland’ which took a lot of my time,’ she says. ‘And then when I came back, it just so happened that I didn’t like the scripts that I was offered, or the ones I liked didn’t take off at the right time. So it was just luck of the draw that I had a two-year gap.’
It was worth the wait. Nimrat is now back with ‘Airlift’, starring superstar Akshay Kumar, based on a true story of a powerful Indian businessman, Ranjit Katyal, who with the help of the Indian government evacuated over 170,000 Indians in 488 Air India flights over a period of 59 days. The film is based on the largest human evacuation in history that took place during the Gulf war in the 1990s.
‘What Indian expats went through during this incident is dramatic, and naturally makes for an exciting film,’ says Nimrat, explaining why she chose to do the film. ‘It is a dramatic story because of what people had to go through. The evacuation plan wasn’t successful in one go, there was a lot of failures and disappointments before Akshay Kumar’s character finally succeeded. Because of the Gulf War, thousands of people suddenly became homeless, jobless and without money. Getting basic necessities like food, clothing became challenging and there was complete mayhem.’
It was hard shooting the film because of the crowd scenes and logistics involved, but for Nimrat it was even more difficult facing off with her first huge Bollywood costar. ‘Akshay Kumar is a huge star, so I was of course intimidated and nervous before meeting him,’ she says. ‘But now, having worked with him, I feel he’s such a good actor and certainly one of the most wonderful persons I have met till date. He made me feel comfortable and I really enjoyed working with him.’
For Nimrat, ‘Airlift’ was more than just her first Bollywood blockbuster, it was an introduction into a chapter in history few Indians are aware of. ‘I was not aware of this incident at all, and I don’t think a lot of people knew about it either,’ she admits. ‘The airlift episode took place as recently as 20 years ago, but still very few people are aware of it. It’s impressive and surprising how politics and governments have managed to hide such an historic event, when such incidents should be publicized.’
Nimrat is comfortable today as an actor, but it was not always so. ‘I don’t think that you wake up one day knowing you want to become an actor,’ she says. ‘I don’t have anyone in my family who is an artist as ours is an academically inclined family. So just admitting out loud that I want to become an actor did not come easy. But now I know for sure and there’s no stopping me!’