A women who sacrificed her life, at the age of 24, so that she could protect her passengers. Her plane Pam Am Flight 73 was hijacked on the way to USA, she saved each and every life on that flight, except hers.
Sonam Kapoor starrer ‘Neerja’ is based on the same set of events. Kapoor won her first National award for the film.
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Here 10 must know facts about Neerja Bhanot:
1. She was born on 7th September, 1962 in Chandigarh to Harish and Rama Bhanot.
Her father was a journalist in his days. Her parents had prayed for long to get a daughter. When she was born, her father had thanked the nurse twice. She repeated, ‘It is a girl.’
2. She studied in Bombay Scottish School, and graduated from St Xavier’s college, Mumbai.
A ‘no problem’ child, who entertained ‘no nonsense’. Neerja’s family name was ‘Lado’.
3. She was a loyal friend.
Even if she had a disagreement with any of her friends, she would always be the first to sort it out. She always used to speak her mind, telling the truth.
4. Neerja Bhanot was a known face in ad campaigns.
She was around 18 years old when a photographer approached her for a modelling assignment. When the ad was printed, what followed was a mirage of jobs. Neerja had features in ads for Binaca, Vaporex and Krack Jack biscuits.
5. She was married to a man based in Sharjah in March 1985.
This was when her modelling career was taking off. But Neerja agreed to the marriage without any argument. However within two months of the marriage, she was subjected to mental and physical abuse.
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6. Neerja’s marriage came to an end when she came back to Mumbai for a modelling assignment.
Her husband sent her an ugly letter listing terms of her return. It was ‘accept the humiliating terms without a whimper at your own cost’ offer. The other option was separation. Bhanot chose the later.
7. She was picked in the top 80, out of 10,000 applicants for a job of flight attendant with Pam Am.
After her abusive marriage ended, Neerja wanted to prove herself. She used to say if something happened to her one day, even her ex-husband’s shadow should not fall on her dead body. Her wish was honoured.
8. She left home for the last time on 5th September 1986.
25 hours before turning 24, she left to attend her cabin-crew duty. Neerja Bhanot was known to be absolutely calm and efficient through the hijack episode. She alerted the captain, and it was her smartness that ensured the plane couldn’t take off.
9. She saved others, over herself.
Neerja could have saved herself when she opened the emergency exit, but that didn’t go well with her. She decided to be the last person to quit, be it alive or dead.
10. It was on 6th of September that her funeral took place, just a day before her birthday.
The women who died so other could live. She cremated with the chanting of ‘Goodbye darling, please keep coming’, her favourite mantra.