French author Simone de Beauvoir said, "Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male." The patriarchal society often encourages a male child to pursue his dream but limits the sphere of a female child within the boundary of the kitchen. However, overcoming all the obstacles set by orthodox society, the strong-willed women chase their dreams. Thanks to writer-Director Sharan Sharma for portraying the victory of a brave girl in the movie titled ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl (2020).’ It is a biopic of Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, the first woman IAF (Indian Air Force) officer to participate in War.
This movie makes a dramatic start depicting some soldiers are attacked by enemies in the Kargil war and a confident female IAF officer is running towards the helicopter to carry out the rescue mission. Usually, in the films, such an audacious introduction is reserved only for the heroes. The next scene takes the audience 15 years back in time to tell the background story of how a young girl gets attracted to the dream of being a pilot.
In this movie, the audience can experience the thrilling trajectory from a little girl to an IAF officer. Gunjan gets inspired every time a plane passes through the sky. She used to wear goggles even in the nighttime, with a notion to protect her eyes, so that she can be pilot. The first criticizer of her long-cherished dream was her own brother who said that girls can work as a stewardess, rather than being pilots. Through the words of Gunjan’s young brother, the director wittily shows a glimpse of how patriarchal society wants to see a woman.
There is a common saying that “Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing dad.” The man who really deserves credit behind the success of Gunjan Saxena (Played by Janhvi Kapoor) was her father. While most of the orthodox Asian fathers want their grown-up daughters to start a family and raise kids, Gunjan’s father gave her the inspiration to follow her own dream.
Though Gunjan wanted to join Delhi Flying School, the exorbitant course fee pushed her to the quest of IAF admission. It was a stroke of luck that IAF was taking the batch of ‘Women Pilots’ in history. Gunjan’s dream to fly was about to slip away for being a little (7kg) overweight and 1cm shorter than the IAF entry requirements. Then destiny favored her again, as the measurements of her hands and legs were more than the prerequisite. This miraculous incident can be tagged as the ‘power of attraction.’ Under this concept, the universe conspires to assist people in achieving their true desire.
As the storyline advances, Gunjan got admitted to IAF and her first posting was at Udhampur city in Udhampur District under the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In the base, she experienced non-cooperation from her male colleagues and supervisor. Their male ego was damaged seeing a woman stepping inside the IAF which is considered as the domain of males. She was teased by the term, ‘Miss Badlao’ or ‘Miss Change’.
The director intelligently depicts the small to big gender-based struggles that women have to face in the pathway of their successful career. For instance, a scene shows that Gunjan can’t find a female toilet in her base. In another scene, the lack of a makeshift changing room creates a great challenge for her. Gunjan’s rude supervisor Vineet Kumar Singh says “because this place isn’t made for women.” As a supportive boss, Manav Vij guided Gunjan in her training. Out-winning all the difficulties Gunjan became the top-performing pilot of her academy.
Gunjan was attacked by the antagonistic mindset of her Co’s and returned home heart-broken. Though she couldn’t get moral support from her own mother and brother, her encouraging father (played by Pankaj Tripathi) was always there to ignite her spirit. While the whole world was mocking her dream, even her mom was worried about her marriage; Gunjan shows steel-strong stamina for not letting her dream go down. Standing against the chauvinism, she dared to return her base to resume her training. At the age of 24 years, Flying Officer Gunjan Saxena was assigned to combat for IAF in the Kargil war in 1999 under Srinagar station.
At the station, Gunjan was de-motivated by her brother (played by Angad Bedi) once again. Like any other protective Asian brother, he wanted to keep his sister safe. By virtue of her bold character, Gunjan insists her brother to change his own patriarchal notion to start a change in the world. For the sake of her safety, the authority decided to remove Gunjan from her duty as an emergency evacuation pilot of chopper Eagle Hawk 2.
But fortunately, she was sent for a mission to rescue an injured soldier. Ditching the words of her commanding officer, “You can’t do it,” she completed the mission fruitfully rescuing lives including her Supervisor Vineet who hardly missed a chance to belittle her. In the climax scene, Gunjan blows up our mind with her sheer courage and unbending passion towards duty and patriotism. She dared to fly upon the eye of death!
This biopic of Gunjan Saxena reminds the world that women’s physical strength should never be compared with her male counterparts. Women can equally shine in any respected profession by her intelligence, hardworking, and passion. Gunjan Saxena can be a lighthouse for numerous visionary girls who are struggling against the prejudice of family, society, and circumstances to achieve their dreams.
The title role ‘Gunjan Saxena’ has been played by Janhvi Kapoor – daughter of veteran actress Sridevi. As an emerging actress, Janhvi has done praise-worthy acting. Though we have seen Pankaj Tripathi in negative roles in most of his movies, this experienced artist proved his prowess in acting in a positive role – as a motivating father. Furthermore, Angad Bedi, Vineet Kumar Singh, and Manav Vij have done great acting in their respective roles. The film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ is currently streaming on Netflix. You can watch it on your next movie night!