The teaser video for Airlift, one of the most awaited Hindi films of 2016, promises a powerful and inspiring story based on real events.
Starring Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur, the film takes place 25 years ago when Saddam Hussein lead the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. This was a move that was felt around the world and was the start of the First Gulf War.
In Jon Meacham's 2015 biography Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, the author highlights the chaotic August 2, 1990 National Security Council meeting the day of the invasion. The meeting brought together 29 participants from 11 different federal agencies and executive departments and included Richard Haass (Special Assistant to United States President George H. W. Bush and National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs) and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.
The implications of the invasion were only slowly becoming apparent. "It was a big thing that had happened, and people needed time to digest it," Richard Haass recalled. "The people who were in the room hadn't quite realized that this was not business as usual. It was a rambling conversation." Much of the talk seemed to assume that an Iraqi-controlled Kuwait was "a fait accompli," recalled a more hawkish Scowcroft, who described himself as "appalled" by those who saw the invasion as simply a "crisis du jour" rather than as perhaps "the major crisis of our time." Bush later captured the initial prevailing view from the meeting in a diary entry: "It's halfway around the world; U.S. options are limited; and all in all it is a highly complicated situation."
"That was one of the worst meetings I've ever sat through," Haass told Scowcroft.
"I agree," Scowcroft said. "Write me a memo about why we have to act."
While world leaders were developing response plans, the people on the ground in Kuwait were facing the crisis on a very personal level. It was estimated that more than 170,000 Indians were living and working in Kuwait, the largest non-Arab expatriate community there. According to a September 2, 1990 story in the Los Angeles Times:
Many Indians in Kuwait had crowded into the Indian Embassy compound, and those who arrived [in Dubai] said conditions were worsening. "Drivers, laborers, construction workers and domestic helpers who had nowhere to go were pouring in with the hope of shelter," said Jagat Reddy, a shipping company employee. "The whole place is filthy and slushy. It stinks, and there is little more than dry bread to eat." Another refugee said water supplies were drying up in the suburbs.
The film Airlift is based on the story of the massive airlift of hundreds of thousands of Indian civilians from the war-torn country - the largest evacuation of civilians in history - and one Indian businessman's contribution to the evacuation effort.
In August 1990, K.P. Fabian was the head of the Gulf Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. He coordinated the airlift and in a 2011 interview, he recalled one incident:
Mr. K.T.B. Menon called me on 2 August, saying that if finances were the problem he would pay for the air passage of any Indian who wished to leave. “KTB” was the richest Indian in Kuwait. His generosity touched us. He is no more and I do not know whether the Government honoured him for his gesture.
The following Storify highlights the #Rewindto1990 social media and poster release campaign leading up to the release of the Airlift teaser video.
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