There are a few heroes whose stories are left untold. The year 2016 has brought a much needed wave of cinema with movies like Airlift and Neerja bringing out the tales of some unsung heroes. Ashok Chakra award-winner Neerja Bhanot is one such woman of power, who is a role model for many. Her bravery and presence of mind saved over 300 lives on September 5, 1986, when she died saving over 360 Pan Am passengers in a plane hijacked by terrorists and stationed at Karachi, Pakistan.
As we wait to witness the story of her courage in the biopic called Neerja where Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor plays the braveheart, here are five things you need to know about Neerja Bhanot! ALSO SEE: Neerja – The Voice of Neerja Bhanot, as heard for the last time on Pan Am Flight 73! (Listen)
1. Neerja Bhanot’s Childhood
Neerja Bhanot was born on September 7, 1963, in Chandigarh to Mumbai-based journalist, Harish Bhanot and his wife Rama Bhanot. (ALSO READ: Neerja’s foundation is Sonam Kapoor & the actors playing the 250 passengers: Director Ram Madhvani)
2. Neerja Bhanot’s Marriage
While Neerja was an ambitious girl, her parents got her married at the young age of 21 in March 1985. After her marriage she moved to he Gulf with her husband. The marriage was unsuccessful and after her husband began making dowry demands, she separated from him and returned to Mumbai. (ALSO READ: Neerja will be an important film in Sonam Kapoor’s career: Shabana Azmi)
3. Neerja Bhanot’s Pan Am career
After her crushed marriage, Neerja began her life anew. It was then that she applied to Pan Am for the post of flight attendant and was selected. She went to Miami for training and became a flight purser. She was among the 80 people selected from the 10,000 applicants.
4. Neerja Bhanot’s Dreams
From a very young age, Neerja dreamt of becoming a model. However, her sudden marriage at 21 put a full stop to these dreams. When she separated from her husband and became a flight purser, she continued her modelling dream in Mumbai and appeared in some ads.
5. Neeerja Bhanot’s Awards
After her brave act of saving 380 passengers and crew members, she was posthumously awarded the bravery award of India, the Ashoka Chakra. She is the youngest recipient of this award.