Air India In-flight Safety Video
A viral video on social media platform X showcases how dull and boring in-flight safety videos can be turned into an innovative and vibrant work of art as shown by Indian commercial airline Air India. Air India/Twitter

The Indian government-run commercial airline, Air India, has taken the internet by storm over the weekend through its classy inflight safety video.

India is known for several forms of traditional or classical dances which vary from region to region. Now, the commercial airline has taken advantage of the beautiful poses of these dances called "mudras" to narrate inflight safety instructions.

In the video shared on Twitter, different dancers are seen narrating sections of the safety guidelines for situations like emergency evacuation upon landing through the mudras. The video named "Safety Mudras" was released by Air India on Friday. It shows classical dancers explaining inflight safety procedures using various Indian dance forms like Odissi, Kathak, Bihu, Ghoomar, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattam, Giddha etc.

Since its release, the video has gone viral on X with thousands of retweets and over one million views in a day.

Air India described the dances as a medium of storytelling in its tweet which read: "For centuries, Indian classical dance and folk-art forms have served as a medium of storytelling and instruction. Today, they tell another story, that of inflight safety. Presenting Air India's new Safety Film, inspired by the rich and diverse dance traditions of India."

According to the commercial airline, the safety mudras video was made in association with Grammy-winning singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan, Bollywood lyricist and writer Prasoon Joshi, and filmmaker Bharat Bala.

Many Indians shared the video on Twitter with comments like "Dear Air India, you just stole my heart", while some pointed out missing dance forms like Garba by saying: "Classy! Garba was missing though".

One Twitter user called the new Air India Inflight safety video "stunning and gorgeous" and urged the commercial airline to keep surprising customers with "best service and connectivity".

Many Twitter users have lauded the way Air India transformed dull inflight safety instructions into a "colourful and vibrant" video while others have called it a "delightful way to showcase the essence of Indian traditions while emphasising the importance of in-flight safety".

Using dance forms for inflight safety instructions - Innovative or problematic?

Meanwhile, the airline told PTI how its new inflight safety video integrates safety instructions with mudras or dance expressions in eight diverse dance forms from around the country.

"Each featured dance form presents a specific safety instruction, providing vital information in an engaging and culturally immersive manner," said the airline.

However, some Indians have blasted Air India for overshadowing something as critical as flight safety by emphasising entertainment.

"Basics on flight safety should be communicated with clarity. Not force-fitted into theatrics. Beyond the first instruction, I couldn't retain any of it. Too distracting. Wonder what's the purpose: passenger safety or awards? Is it worth making a song & dance about this? #AirIndia," read one tweet.

Another X user called it "too cliched and too long" without clear safety information which would be difficult to understand for first-time flyers.

Speaking about the matter, the CEO of Air India, Campbell Wilson said: "As a flagbearer of the country and a longstanding patron of Indian art and culture, Air India is thrilled to unveil a masterpiece that not only imparts crucial safety instructions but also celebrates India's vibrant cultural tapestry to travellers worldwide. Our passengers will find this inflight safety video to be both engaging and enlightening, extending a warm welcome to India from the moment they step onboard."

Indian dance forms have been widely used to tell science or climate-related stories as they are folklore by nature. Celebrated Indian dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, the wife of Indian Space Research Organisation's founder Vikram Sarabhai is well known for this. Their daughter Mallika Sarabhai continues with her efforts.

The Safety Mudras video will be shown in the newly launched A350 aircraft of Air India. This new aircraft is equipped with cutting-edge inflight entertainment screens to give flyers the best experience. The new video would be gradually rolled out to other Air India planes.