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Kunal Shivdasani's Hijack, which releases today, starring Shiney Ahuja and Esha Deol, has run into a strange parallel. Talking about the uncanny coincidence Kunal says, "We were to release Hijack last week but the film got pushed back to today as August 29 had four releases. While surfing the net, I discovered that Sept 5 is the same day that Pan Am's Boeing 747 Flight 73, was hijacked in Karachi 22 years ago. I guess it just happened that's destiny! Unfortunately, my film is also about hijacking. It's really a bizarre coincidence."
Kunal takes pains to ensure that apart from the hijacking, nothing is similar to the Pan Am incident or that Esha Deol's character is based on that of Neerja Bhanot (who was the senior flight-purser on the Pan Am Flight 73). He says, "Esha's character is fictional as is Hijack. The characters in Hijack have been taken from various hijacking incidents. In Hijack, the hijacked plane is not a Boeing 747 but a Tristar which gets hijacked in Chandigarh while travelling from Delhi to Amritsar."
Pan American World Airways Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked on Sept 5, 1986, by four armed men of the Abu Nidal Organisation. The Boeing 747 with 360 on board had just arrived from Mumbai and was preparing to depart via Karachi International Airport in Pakistan for Frankfurt Airport, on to John F Kennedy Airport in NYC.
At least 20 died during the hijacking and over 120 passengers were wounded in the assault. Neerja Bhanot was the senior flight purser on the ill-fated flight. She hid the passports of the passengers on the flight so that the hijackers could not differentiate between Americans and non-Americans. Neerja laid down her life while shielding three children from the bullets fired by the terrorists.