3 min read
The latest addition to Bollywood’s apparently favourite genre, biopics, is Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. The film stars Janhvi Kapoor as Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, the first woman Shaurya Chakra awardee and the only woman to be a part of the Kargil War. Directed by Sharan Sharma and produced by Dharma Productions and Zee Studios, the movie was released on Netflix on August 12th, 2020.
Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Angad Bedi, Vineet Kumar Singh and Manav Vij.
Director: Sharan Sharma
IMDb rating: 4.6/10
Streaming On: Netflix
Gunjan Saxena (Kapoor) had cherished for long the desire to become a pilot. From the day she got a chance to enter the cockpit of a flight as a little girl, she knew her goal in life was to soar high through the clouds. With an extremely supportive father (Tripathi) by her side, she worked hard to achieve her goal.
But as she grew older she started facing many hurdles, mainly in the form of sexism and regressive social attitude towards women. The story tracks Gunjan’s journey while she overcomes all obstacles and goes on to become the first woman Indian Air Force pilot in combat during the Kargil War.
The movie’s greatest strength is that it sticks to the basic structure of storytelling. The first part introduces the protagonist, the second establishes the conflict and the final part depicts the resolution. By keeping the story simple and strictly adhering to this structure, the writers manage to grab the attention of the audience and keep them engaged until the very end.
A lone woman’s struggle against sexism and misogyny is depicted well in the movie. From her fellow officers refusing to fly with her citing reasons like “What will I do if she starts crying mid-flight?” to juniors saying “Let’s move away or we will have to salute her too”, Gunjan’s experiences leave the audience bristling at the injustice that was meted out to her.
Another noteworthy point about the movie is that it does not try to be overly patriotic. It refrains from turning into a war movie and focuses on Gunjan Saxena’s journey. Moreover, war and patriotism are depicted realistically.
Janhvi Kapoor has come a long way from her first movie. She shows restraint and maturity in her acting in this movie. Her depiction of Gunjan’s struggles is convincing. Wearing minimal make-up and a well-fitted (and not figure-hugging) uniform, she looks credible as Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena.
Kapoor has good comic timing too. In scenes with a hint of comedy, she manages to make the audience smile wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, she is still a work in progress when it comes to portraying certain emotions like anger and despair.
Pankaj Tripathi as Gunjan’s father is brilliant. He has great screen presence and does most of the heavy-lifting in emotional scenes where Jahnvi Kapoor falters. He is an absolute delight to watch.
The supporting cast does a good job too. Angad Bedi as Anshuman (Gunjan’s brother), Vineet Kumar Singh as Flight Commander Officer Dileep Singh and Manav Vij as Commanding Officer Gautam Sinha are wonderful in their respective roles. However, these characters lack a certain depth. The dialogues of the supporting cast seem a little clumsy at times too.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is a well-written, neatly executed, no-fuss movie. Considering Bollywood’s obsession with creating overly-dramatised biopics, this film is a welcome change. Even though there isn’t anything extraordinary about the movie, it keeps you hooked till the very end.
Women like Gunjan Saxena need to be celebrated and their stories should be told more often. Watch the movie to understand her struggles and commemorate her success.
Viewed and reviewed by The Review Owl.