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Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl – Reel Vs. Real

Reels of a camera freezes real moments into memories. It is a wonderful concoction when reels and realities merge for a biopic. Subsequently, when biopics are released, there is always a curiosity to compare how accurate the lives of the protagonist or the antagonist are portrayed. So, yesterday at IST 14:45 pm at noon, one of the most awaited movies of 2020 started streaming on Netflix- “Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl” directed by Sharan Sharma.

Gunjan Saxena
Image: WikiBio

To begin with ‘Who’ Gunjan Saxena was, a family with the lineage of serving the Indian Army gave their only daughter the privilege to aspire and then conquer the status of “first-ever woman IAF pilot”. She was destined to be a pilot because her struggle through the patriarchal society and subjected discrimination over femininity did not shiver her determination to fight back every time she was looked down upon by the male officers.

Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena was awarded the gallantry ‘Shaurya Vir Award’ after her exemplary duty of airborne surveys, medical rescue missions, and supplier routes during the Kargil War of 1999. She is known to have served the Indian Air Force for 7 years on a short served commission as a Chopper Pilot and finally retired in the year 2004.

Also, read: 5 Books About The Indian Army Every Indian Should Read

Now, ‘What’ the movie presents to the audience is naturally a dramatized version of her biography.

The movie starts with the scene of the attack in Kilo Valley, South of Tololing during the Kargil War, 1999 when Officer Gunjan Saxena gets the dream opportunity to secure national prestige as the only woman pilot among the male Air Force officers and also her over-protective brother in Indian Army. 

Then the movie takes a flashback on her journey from being a child fascinated by planes to her persistent dream of becoming a pilot only to fly planes. Her clearing of SSB examination, training days, graduation from the Air Force Academy as the only woman along with 11 men to finally entering the Udhampur Air Station for further sortie training were a chain of emotionally raw scenes in the film.

Her father’s constant push to make his daughter strain all her nerves to fulfill what she had always dreamt of, the skeptical brother worrying over the opinions of the world around women and the society-stricken mother unhappy with her daughter’s pursuit of happiness are vividly caricatured in the movie to show how the Indian civility of the 90s was not that welcoming to gender equality.

Honestly, Jahnvi Kapoor played the role of ‘Kargil Girl’ quite befitting to the real hero. It was evident that she worked on her physique, posture, and dialogues as required for the character. Pankaj Tripathi is a homegrown quality actor who served the best skills as Gunjan’s father and for the role of the brother; Angad Bedi was quite a catch though it was not his very best appeal, sincerely. Vineet Kumar Singh and Manav Vij are two prodigious actors in Bollywood that stood out yet again in the race of acting through this movie.

Personally, the cinematography of the movie was the most appalling element, inclusive of all the costumes and delicate casting.  One of the screenplay setbacks I could detect was from the protagonist, played by Jahnvi Kapoor; her voice was not as strong for the commanding slogans of military personnel. The child actors for the movie were notably great in acting and presentation. 

The very ‘Disclaimer’ of the movie is protective of any accusations as it states that creative liberties and exaggeration of incidents and dialogues have been willingly experimented by the team.

Overall, the adaption of Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena’s life into a movie is emotional and empowering one from the prospects of gender neutrality, feminism, and lived reality. A very realistic and crude depiction of prevailing male dominance and hegemony has been presented in the movie.

The music composition and lyricism of the movie have a great empathizing wavelength. The final cut of the movie is a surreal closure with the scene of Gunjan Saxena uniting with her ever-supportive father in the railway station with the most beautiful lyrics

“Tu saare jahan se pyaari mere Bharat ki beti…Dil jaan hai shaan hamaari mere Bharat ki beti jeeti rahi jeeti raho”.

The movie “Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl” is undoubtedly an unbiased biopic to watch as a dawning tale of change with respect to ‘weak is not measured by gender and physicality’. Watch it on Netflix, here.

Jai Hind!

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Written by Anisha

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