Rajesh A Krishnan’s feature debut Lootcase was an enjoyable comedy that chugged along like a slow train. Krishnan’s second movie Crew, about three air hostesses who get tired of being ripped off and decide to do the ripping, moves at jet speed.

Geeta (Tabu), Jasmine (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Divya (Kriti Sanon) work for Kohinoor Airlines, which has stacked up massive debts under its flashy owner Vijay Walia (Saswata Chatterjee). The professional poise expected from the women is in serious danger of cracking under the pressure of unpaid salaries and mounting bills. Kohinoor is going to go belly-up, forcing the women to resort to crime.

The guilt pangs are as fleeting as the fruits of unlawful labour are plentiful. Turbulence arrives in the form of diligent airport inspector Mala (Trupti Khamkar).

Any resemblance to another failed airline owned by a flamboyant businessman that couldn’t cough up salaries is surely not a coincidence. Crew serves up righteous justice on behalf of that airline’s employees. Underpaid Indians who are compelled to shovel dirt while their bosses live high on the hog will cheer the women’s get-rich-quick ploy.

No animals or humans were harmed in the making of this movie, a disclaimer cheekily informs us. The airline’s name itself is an in-joke that eventually pays off.

Choli Ke Peeche, Crew (2024).

The screenplay by Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri gets off the mark quickly, laying out the individual tics of its heroines before going on to show how they mesh together as a team. Geeta is a pill-popping worrywart who projects authority on account of her age. Jasmine isn’t above bending the rules to pursue her belief that greed is good, especially when the greedy are fundamentally good. Divya has hidden reserves of strength, evident in her encounters with customs officer Jaiveer (Diljit Dosanjh).

The movie is funny, sexy and honest without being overly mushy or judgemental. Crew is turbo-charged by a terrific trio of performers, who exude sheer relief at being handed roles that play to their respective strengths.

Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kriti Sanon are eminently watchable individually and together. They have so much lived-in chemistry between them that they even manage to sell a silly, barely plausible plan to give Vijay Walia his just desserts.

Given the trio’s collective wattage, it’s a marvel that anybody else gets noticed in the movie – but they do. Buddy comedies are often the preserve of men, giving their female characters little to do. Crew proves otherwise, sharing the spoils equally between its female leads but setting aside a little extra for its male characters.

There are memorable walk-on parts for Diljit Dosanjh as Divya’s dashing date, Kapil Sharma as Geeta’s supportive husband Arun, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Jasmine’s doting grandfather. Charu Shankar has a nifty role as a former stewardess

Some of the 125-minute movie’s zingers and hilarious scenes simply whoosh by. Having grabbed us with the casting, and having done justice to its themes, Crew is sometimes in too much of a rush to reach its destination. Yet, Krishnan ensures that his heroines – smart without being smug, self-centred but sensitive too, always looking out for each other as women tend to – won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Crew (2024).