Director: Sharan Sharma
Genre: Biography | Action | Drama
Release: Netflix Originals
‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ wins with flying colours for it’s patriotism, compassion and humanity.
Last year, on the twentieth anniversary of Kargil War, a film on the first and only female IAF officer to have gone to war had created quite a stir amongst people. Little did director Sharan Sharma know that the movie on the life of the first woman Shaurya Chakra awardee, Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, would become the talk of the town. A dramatised version of the war veteran’s life, starring Janhvi Kapoor, ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’, releases on Netflix and impresses with its positivity.
In 1997, in Kargil Valley, a troop of Indian soldiers is marching on, when heavy shelling leaves them wounded and calling for help. At the air force base, due to a lack of pilots, commanding officer Dileep Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) places the responsibility of evacuating the jawans on young lieutenant Gunjan Saxena’s shoulders. The film then flashbacks to the formative years of the fighter pilot’s life, where becoming a pilot is her sole aim in life. While young Gunjan, donning aviators at all times, eats, sleeps and dreams of herself in pilot overalls, her elder brother mocks her and calls her a ‘gone case’.
When Gunjan (Janhvi Kapoor) clears her 10th standard boards, her father, Lt. Col. Ashok Kumar Saxena (Pankaj Tripathi) throws a party in her honour. After she creates a scene at the party wanting to go to Delhi to pursue the pilot training course, her mother asks the husband, “Woh maan gai na?”, to which he replies, “Nahin, main maan gaya!” Gunjan faces a few roadblocks but her eyes are set to the sky. An ad in a newspaper calls for women to join the Indian Air Force, which changes her life forever.
Gunjan clears her physicals and goes for the medicals, which sadly, bring out a negative result. She is overweight and her height does not meet the required standards. Shattered, she gives up, but her father does not let it go easily. Rigorous training and a positive outlook takes her to the Air Force Academy, where she qualifies as a pilot. Her brother Anshuman (Angad Bedi) tries to show her the stark reality, but that does not deter Gunjan from going to Udhampur, where she is posted in an all-male officers’ unit.
At the base, being the only female officer, she struggles to fit into the male-dominated territory, where she is often belittled by the commanding officer Gautam Sinha (Manav Vij) and her fellow trainees. Her sorties are cancelled and she becomes the object of everyone’s ridicule including Dileep Singh. But with persuasion, she shows the males what ‘mettle’ she’s truly made of! Officer Sinha takes a liking to her and Gunjan takes to the skies with him for all her sorties. He teaches her the nuances of the game, and leads from the front when war breaks out.
Janhvi fits the mould perfectly. Her transformation from a dreamy youngster to a determined Air Force pilot is sensational. She does a fine job and has come a long way from her ‘Dhadak’ days. She proves that she can act too. However, her listless expressions during emotional scenes still need refinement. Pankaj Tripathi is excellent as the supportive father. His bonding with his onscreen daughter touches your heart. He wins hands down in a drama that needed more than just the lead actor. Manav Vij and Vineet Kumar as the commanding officers play their roles to a T(down to the smallest details). Though Angad Bedi does not have enough scope, he shines.
The film is high on drama and captures the life story of a female war veteran in all earnestness. The adrenaline-pumping war scenes come on only towards the end of the film but they do leave an impact. The screenplay is slow but that does not hamper the film’s pace. The drone shots of Lucknow are visually striking. The cinematography capturing the war zone keeps you hooked on to the screen. The songs are situational and do not affect the flow of the movie.
A motivational drama, with some cinematic liberties thrown in for effect, ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’, is a must watch this week.
Eventznu Rates ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’: * * ½