Crew Review: Kareena, Tabu, Kriti rock in fun flight heist
Crew Review: Kareena, Tabu, Kriti rock in this well-written fun flight heist

Focussing on the lives of relatable middle-class working women, this sisterhood of the travelling flight attendant shoes takes you on a fun ride

Director: Rajesh Krishnan 


Writer: Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri 


Lead Cast: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon 


Stars: 4 


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The Plot 

Produced by Balaji Motion Pictures and Anil Kapoor Films & Communication Network and helmed by Rajesh Krishnan, Crew starts with three hardworking women, Geeta Sethi (Tabu), Jasmine Rana (Kareena Kapoor Khan), and Divya Bajwa (Kriti Sanon), living what seems to be a rather glamourous life as air hostesses. But soon the dark realities are revealed. Coming from middle-class families they are struggling to make ends meet; Kohinoor Airlines, the reportedly debt-ridden company they work for helmed by Vijay Walia (a cross between Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy brilliantly played by the inimitable Saswata Chatterjee), has not paid its employees for months. Still, they try to hold on to the imaginary silver linings and put their best foot forward every morning. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And when the company announces bankruptcy, stretched to their limits, they hatch a devious plan, rather a Plan B, that would eventually test their conscience and middle-class morality. Caught in their own web of lies, the trio struggles to stay afloat and make things right.  


The Craft 

Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon all play their part to perfection. Each looks drop-dead gorgeous -- these are not sexy women seen from a male gaze but women who dress up for themselves, they put on their makeup not to lure men but to simply feel good.


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Tabu plays the matriarch of the group, Geeta Sethi. Hers is a riches-to-rags story. She is the main earning member of the family which includes a loving and supportive but meagre earning husband (Kapil Sharma playing a very un-Kapil Sharma-like character) and a leech of an alcoholic brother. She is waiting for the company to release her PF with which she has planned to start afresh with her husband in Goa. Kareena is of course the diva and the drama queen of the group. Having been brought up by her grandfather (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) after her parents’ divorce, she is a morally ambiguous, middle-aged single woman who dreams of starting her own make-up company. She is pragmatic and knows that “To make money you need to have money” and makes no bones about not always being on the right side of the law. It’s a joy to watch Tabu and Kareena play the middle-aged hustlers; instead of hiding their age, they flaunt it as unabashedly as they flaunt their cleavage. There is a scene where Tabu pulls Kareena’s leg while she is retouching her makeup by saying foundation can hardly work as a time machine—one could have seen it as age shaming, but the way the scene is constructed especially with the dialogue being mouthed by an older woman, the joke lands on point (also, the way Kareena react to it by making faces and mimicking, she looks every bit like the rambunctious Jeh’s mom!). Kriti Sanon is equally good as the younger member of the crew who has less life experience but being a class topper, she makes it up with her academic knowledge. All three characters are well-written and given a solid arc and all three actors, like the characters they play, put their best foot forward, coordinating their steps instead of stepping on the toes of one another.  




Apart from the lead cast, we also have Rajesh Sharma as Prithviraj Mittal, CFO of Kohinoor Airlines, and Saswata Chatterjee (of Bob Biswas fame) as Vijay Walia, Chairman of Kohinoor Airlines—both are brilliant actors and are instrumental in heightening the comedy quotient of the movie. And then there is Diljit ‘heartthrob’ Dosanjh as Jai Singh Rathore, Sub Inspector, CBI, who also doubles up as Kriti’s onscreen love interest. He alone brings in all the male charm needed in this women-led movie.


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The editing by Manan Sagar is tight and ensures the thrill is never gone, especially in the second half when the heist takes place. Cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan serves the purpose of the movie. And the direction by Rajesh Krishnan needs a huge round of applause (more on this later). The Choli Ke Peeche remake used as the background score is highly enjoyable and a quirky addition. Rest of the songs are hummable but you really don’t get hooked to them. The secret ingredient that makes the movie such a fun watch is however the deft yet breezy writing. Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri, who had earlier written Veere Di Wedding, are more mature and nuanced here. The writing celebrates the individuality, agency, and independence of each character while putting them in the context of a society that incessantly threatens these on a daily basis. Practical friendship among work colleagues, financial empowerment, the pursuit of dreams, realistic locker room jokes among women, and the little lies we tell to smoothen the rough edges of life, all are weaved in organically. The poignant moments retain their gravitas without becoming preachy, the jokes land without becoming slapsticky and crass, and the three main characters stand out as individuals with their age and social background and together as a unified crew with a solid ‘behenchara’. The willing suspension of disbelief that the highly-unrealistic plot often demands in copious amounts finds the right balance in the realistic and rooted characters the writers create.   

Keeping it real 

Crew is a fun film that unburdens its female lead from the cuss-word spewing 'independent woman' trope — women who drink like fish, smoke like chimneys, manipulate and exploit emotions, abuse like men, and often use men as disposable sex toys — Bollywood is peddling these days. Instead, the women in Crew are weighed down by real responsibilities that middle-class, working women can relate to and struggle with. The most crucial part of being an independent woman (unlike that projected in Bollywood movies these days) is having financial independence — it is the pursuit of money to have a decent lifestyle, to pay monthly rent and installments, to repay loans, to fund the education of the children, to take care of the elderly, and a desperate attempt to save up for a less difficult future, and not the pursuit of men and great orgasms that usually dictate the lives of the contemporary modern middle-class working women.  


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That this film is helmed by a man and has such relatable female characters as protagonists proves that art and talent have no gender. Any filmmaker, irrespective of gender attempting to tell a story honestly keeping focus on the craft needs to be celebrated; a woman telling women’s stories does not essentially make for great cinema. Lived experience is important but not all experiences need to be lived to turn it into an incisive story— the idea is to write a fictional story and not a diary entry. Gulzar’s portrayal of the leading ladies in Ijaazat is in no way less realistic or nuanced than that of Meghna Gulzar’s in Raazi. To create good art, one needs to have empathy and the right intentions along with mastery over the craft.  

The Verdict 

Finally, a female-led spunky film where the women aren't forever looking for 'sexual freedom', bashing men, and cussing their way to glory. Instead, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Tabu, and Kriti Sanon play relatable middle-class working women who are the financial backbone of their respective families. And that in itself is a breath of fresh air in Bollywood where the 'independent woman' is increasingly becoming a stereotype.  

Crew is a well-made, well-written, and well-acted film that works so well because it doesn't take itself too seriously. The unusual casting really works and the chemistry among the crew adds to ensure this age-inclusive women-led flight-heist a smooth landing.

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