Ahead of ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, a Malayalam film rescued stranded nurses from war-torn Iraq

Starring Parvathy and Fahadh Faasil, ‘Take Off’ chronicles the 2014 rescue operation of Malayali nurses from Tikrit.

Salman Khan’s action hero Avinash Singh Rathore is back as the Research and Analysis Wing agent in Tiger Zinda Hai. In Ali Abbas Zafar’s big-budget sequel to the 2012 blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger, Rathore is accompanied by his lover, the Pakistani spy Zoya (Katrina Kaif), in saving Indian nurses from war-ravaged Iraq. The nurses are being held hostage by an Islamic State-like organisation, headed by a terrorist played by Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz. The Yash Raj Films production will be out on December 22.

A similar rescue had taken place in the March release Take Off. Mahesh Narayan’s Malayalam film too brought 19 Malayali nurses back home safe and sound, but without the bombs and the gun battles.

Take Off is based on the real-life ordeal of 46 nurses who were left stranded in the Iraqi city Tikrit in 2014. The nurses were eventually freed by Islamic State terrorists after negotiations with the Indian government and with the help of Malayali businessmen in the United Arab Emirates.

Take Off stars Parvathy as Sameera, a feisty head nurse who is lured by the promise of big money to move to a hospital in Tikrit with her husband Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban). A very pregnant Sameera’s world is turned upside down when Shaheed is taken prisoner at Mosul and she is left to fend for herself and her teenage son in a hospital under siege. Sameera emerges as the movie’s star character, who puts up a fight with immense conviction.

Take Off (2017).

The fast-paced narrative relies on suspense and tension. While some moments are highly contrived, such as the scene in which a UAE business tycoon melts over the sobs of the nurses, Take Off’s treatment is realistic for the most part and stays away from high-octane drama.

Rather than a single hero, Take Off has many unassuming knights, including the Indian Ambassador to Iraq Manoj Ibrahim, deftly played by Fahadh Faasil. The movie doesn’t play down the challenges of transporting civilians out of a war zone. When Manoj is badgered to sanction a commando operation to bring the nurses back home, he correctly says, “Transporting them is more risky than rescuing them.”

Parvathy in Take Off (2017).
Parvathy in Take Off (2017).
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.