Airlift is indeed a 2016 Indian Hindi-language historic drama film written and directed by Raja Krishna Menon and featuring Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur. It follows Ranjit Katyal, a Kuwait-based businessman, as he organises the evacuation of Indians in Kuwait during Saddam Hussein’s Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Abundantia Entertainment, Cape of Good Films, Emmay Entertainment, Hari Om Entertainment, T-Series, and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures collaborated on the movie, which had a budget of 320 million dollars. The narrative is based on the true tale of Mathunny Mathews, a Malayali businessman living in Kuwait.
In 1990, Indian expatriate Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) is a successful Kuwait-based businessman with strong ties to authorities in Kuwait City and Baghdad, and he lives happily with his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and their daughter Simu in Kuwait. He refers to himself as a Kuwaiti and frequently mocks Indians.
Ranjit is awakened by a phone call from a friend, who informs him that negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait have broken down, and Iraqi forces have launched their invasion of Kuwait. The next morning, Ranjit finds that the Iraqi Army has taken control of Kuwait City.
In an attempt to evacuate their family and flee Kuwait, Ranjit and his driver, Nair, set out and drive to the Indian consulate. They are halted at a checkpoint by Iraqi forces, and Nair is shot dead in the chaos. Ranjit is subsequently escorted to the Emir’s palace, where he is stunned. There, he meets Major Khalaf bin Zayd (Inaamulhaq), an Iraqi Republican Guard commander who explains that he was the one who pulled up to the checkpoint earlier and saved Ranjit’s life. Major Khalaf, who knows Ranjit from his trips to Iraq, chastises him but extends a personal relationship to him, assuring Ranjit and his family’s protection from the soldiers.
Ranjit then proceeds to the Indian embassy, where he hears that Kuwait’s government has fled to exile. Approximately 170,000 Indians are currently stuck as refugees in Kuwait. Iraqi forces continue to advance across Kuwait, and Iraqi soldiers attack Ranjit’s residence, but his wife and kid manage to flee to his office. With Major Khalaf’s approval, Ranjit persuades his buddies to collaborate, and they build up a temporary camp for 500 Indians. Amrita encourages Ranjit to utilise his clout to help his own family, but Ranjit, who would normally simply look out for himself, appears to have changed his mind. He decides to stay and assist the other Indians in their departure from Kuwait.
When Ranjit hears that the Indian embassy in Kuwait has been evacuated, he contacts the Indian External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi, where he speaks with Joint Secretary Sanjiv Kohli (Kumud Mishra) and requests that the evacuation be arranged. Later, Iraqi forces plundered the camp and mistreated some of the evacuees. Ranjit pays Major Khalaf a visit and tells him about it, to which the Major merely apologises and says that President Saddam has already given Indians permission to leave Kuwait, but they have no method of doing so. Ranjit flies to Baghdad in the hopes of securing safe passage out of Kuwait, but he is unsuccessful.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, the last remaining alternative, proves to be beneficial. He informs the Indian refugees that an Indian commercial ship carrying different goods is about to arrive in Iraq, and he allows them to board the ship. However, Ranjit subsequently learns about the UN embargo, which prohibits ships from entering or departing Iraq, essentially putting an end to their plans to flee.
Meanwhile, Kohli is a slacker, but when his father (Arun Bali) tells him about their ordeal during India’s division, Kohli is encouraged to actively assist Ranjit. He approaches Air India to organise an evacuation of the 170,000 Indians in Kuwait and obtains authorization from the Indian embassy in Amman, Jordan. As the Indians depart Kuwait, Ranjit comes across yet another checkpoint where he is confronted by angry Iraqi troops who threaten to murder Amrita since she does not have a passport or ID. Following a battle between Ranjit and the troops, the civilians in Ranjit’s convoy rush forward, outnumbering the Iraqi soldiers. The caravan passes after Ranjit lets them live.
The land in Jordan, where they would be flown back to India by Air India and Indian Airlines flights. As they board the planes that will carry them home, the Indians salute Ranjit. When Ranjit sees the Indian Tricolor, he feels terrible about his attitude against Indians. Ranjit says at the end of the film that he has always felt India never did anything for its inhabitants, but after being saved by the nation he and many other Indians had rejected, he may never say that again.