The saying "The sky is not the limit” perfectly describes the inspirational journey of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, India’s First Female Air Force Pilot officer who went to war. When she was just 24, she contributed to Indian’s Victory in the Kargil war by carrying out over 40 successful missions.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl‘s contribution to the nation made her the first woman Shaurya Chakra awardee. Her battle commenced at a very early age when she aspired to become a pilot. She had to fight against the social norms, gender expectations, and question gender roles, which she also learned from her father. Convincing the other family members and Air force officers of their orthodoxy that a female cannot become a pilot has been the most challenging.
The movie begins in media res. The opening scene is at the battlefield in Kargil. Indian Soldiers are attacked by the Pakistani troops and are badly in need of a rescue. Jhanvi Kapoor starring as Gunjan Saxena runs towards her chopper to carry out the mission. The narrative moves to the past when, as a young girl travelling in a plane with her brother, she is desperate to discover the outer world through the window. Her brother doesn’t allow her to open the shutter as he wants to sleep. An air hostess takes her to the cockpit, which leaves her awestruck, and when she asks if she can sit in the seat, the pilot smilingly says, “for that, you have to become a pilot.” This induces her to become a pilot.
She grows up with this dream to become a pilot and clears her matriculation exam with 94% but is intimidated and worried about telling her family about her aspiration. She reveals to her brother about her decision who smears by saying, “Girls don’t become pilots.” Gunjan’s father (Pankaj Tripathi) replies, “Whether it’s a man or a woman flying the plane, they’re both called pilots.” He is the only person who stands all the time with her and believes in her more than anybody in the world and continues to do so until her daughter accomplishes her goal.
With the support of her father and through her diligence, she becomes an Indian Air Force Officer. But the battle is only half won and has a long way to go. She is selected in the battalion unit yet faces several challenges at the army quarters, but Gujan fights back. Both create “a room of her own” in a place that she is forced to share with her male counterparts or by raising her voice in a room full of men, telling them that respecting her will not harm their ego. This is the most touching scene of the movie when she attacks gender norms by saying, “the problem is your fear, sir. You are scared because this “madam” will become a “sir,” and you will have to salute her.”
In one scene, Gunjan is tired and frustrated with her career and wants to settle down. Her father says, “The solution isn’t to shut yourself in a cage, but to break free and fly.”
In the nepotism debate, Janhvi Kapoor can justify the role, but the anger on her face can’t be expressed at some point. The tears of rejection and getting selected for the Air force can be easily noticed. Her new fresh character of an officer is mesmerizing.
Pankaj Tripathi is simply the best and classic. He is calm and a supportive father who never differentiates between his son and his daughter. His presence and dialogue delivery will bring a smile on your face. He is an actor who never seems to be acting but living.
Angad Bedi starring as Gujan’s brother delivers an excellent performance. Be it dancing with her sister, being concerned about her safety, or saluting her in the climax, the honesty in his eyes stays the same in every scene.
Ayesha Raza Mishra acting as Janhvi’s Mother, Manav Vij as the Commanding officer and Vineet Kumar Singh as a Senior Officer, do full justice to their roles.
The film was produced to show Gunjan Saxena’s journey from becoming a pilot and to break the mentality of stereotypical people who believe a female can’t become a successful pilot. Though the action is not the like that of ‘Uri- The Surgical Strike,’ yet it is needless to say she is unpatriotic. This she makes clear with her father, who says being loyal to duty is being true to the nation.
Amit Trivedi composes music, and songs in the movie are refreshing and sung well by the artist. Songs like “Bharat Ki Beti” and “Asmaan Di Pari” will encourage and motivate you.
It is a perfect pick to watch it with your family members, and also if you have been feeling puzzled and lack the motivation to achieve goals.
The movie is directed by Sharan Sharma and produced by Dharma Productions and Zee Studios. Netflix acquired the distribution rights and was premiered on 12 August 2020 on Netflix.
By Pushkar Patnaik
Pushkar Patnaik is a freelancing writer. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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