Thursday, November 30, 2023

Woke up to deafening sounds of bombs, blaring siren

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PNS | Mumbai

Actor Nushrratt Bharuccha on Tuesday said the 36 hours she spent stuck in Israel after being stranded in the country following the attack by Hamas militants were the “most unforgettable and daunting” of her life.

The actor had flown to Israel to attend the Haifa International Film Festival for the screening of her film “Akelli”, a thriller about an ordinary Indian woman trapped in a combat zone. The film also stars Israeli actors Tsahi Halevi and Amir Boutrous.

“The last week will forever remain etched in my memory…a rollercoaster ride of emotions, the final 36 hours of which will remain the most unforgettable and daunting of my life,” she said in a video posted on Instagram.

Nushrratt said she was accompanied to the festival by the film’s producer and her stylist. The actor said they had almost ended their trip on a celebratory note on October 6 with a promise to meet again, but then the attacks happened.

“We’d said our goodbyes and were ready to fly back the next day. But Saturday morning was nothing like the previous evening’s celebration. We were woken up to the deafening sounds of bombs going off, a blaring siren, and complete and utter panic as we were all rushed down into a shelter’ in the basement of our hotel. It was only when we emerged from there, after what seemed like an endless wait, that we learnt that Israel was under attack. Nothing could have prepared us for this news,” she added. Nushrratt, 38, said their first impulse was to contact the Indian Embassy, but reaching there seemed completely impossible due to the explosions.

The actor said she soon realised that it may get difficult for them to reach the airport for the scheduled flight to India and started making “desperate” calls for help.

“We kept track of official advisories issued by the Indian Government and connected with the Indian and Israeli embassies for details about the escalating situation outside, who were extremely helpful in guiding us.”

Nushrratt said while there was panic at the cellular network got disrupted, she found help from “completely unexpected” quarters– calls from her Israeli co-actors, guidance from the Indian and Israeli embassies, the hotel staff and the taxi driver who selflessly helped in the moment of crisis. “We mustered all the courage we could find and picked ourselves up to somehow get to the airport and take any flight out to any country we could manage to.
“…What would otherwise have been routine was an uncertain and completely unpredictable few hours, to say the very least. With every small postponement announced, we despaired further, our hearts sinking again… surreal is a very weak word to describe how exactly we felt when we were finally airborne.”

The actor said having escaped a war zone, she cannot be more grateful to be back home and with her family. “I am ever so grateful to the Government of India, the Indian Embassy and the Israeli Embassy, for their help and guidance in bringing my team and me back safely. I would also like to thank each and every one of my well-wishers from the bottom of my heart for their wishes and prayers for my safety,” she said.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has entered the fourth day and it has already claimed at least 1,600 lives on both sides. This includes 788 killed and 4,100 others injured on the Gaza side. Following the brutal attacks by Hamas militants on Saturday morning in the southern areas of the Jewish state, backed by a barrage of rockets that hit even the central parts of the country, Israeli warplanes have pounded downtown Gaza City, home to Hamas’ centres of government.

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