Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl encourages equality in the skies

The Netflix original movie is based on the true story of India's first female combat pilot

By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: Netflix is no rookie to the world of original content. Famous for its documentaries and series, the production company has also been branching out into more and more original movies. Over the weekend, Netflix released Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, a movie inspired by the real life story of India’s first female combat pilot. Within hours, the movie hit number 1 on Netflix in multiple countries, and for all the right reasons.

Directed by Sharan Sharma, the movie tells the story of a young girl who dreams of being a pilot. However, first due to lack of qualifications and then financial constraints, Gunjan is not able to attend flying school. This is when her biggest supporter, her father, encourages her to apply for the first ever batch of female pilots in the Indian Air Force.

The team behind Gunjan Saxena crafted a perfect blend of emotions, action and drama into the movie. Gunjan’s mother (played by Ayesha Raza) is a character that many can relate to. While a part of her wants Gunjan to study and benefit from all the opportunities that she did not get, she also dreams of seeing her daughter get married.

Angad Bedi wonderfully presents the double standards that exist within a brother’s mind. Serving in the Indian Army, Dada (as Gunjan calls him) does not want his sister to join the Air Force. He repeatedly tells her how dangerous it can be, and how the world would always see Gunjan as a girl and never as an officer. The character draws a very thin line between looking out for his sister and being sexist, one that is often blurred out by his opinions.

Panjak Tripathi specially stood out for his performance as Gunjan’s father. While Sharan Sharma, Nikhil Mehrotra and Hussain Dalal beautifully wrote the screenplay and the dialogues for the movie, the composure with which Tripathi delivered his lines displayed the strength of his character. Not once does he lose his calm, even when both of his children are at war. Tripathi’s love for his nation and his daughter surpass his fear of losing his only daughter. Tripathi’s character breaks every stereotype associated with desi fathers and daughters on every occasion that he tells Gunjan to break free from the cage that society wants her to be trapped in. From a young age, he teaches her that becoming a pilot depends on a person’s talent, not their gender.

Whether Janhvi Kapoor was the most talented choice for the lead role, one can’t be entirely sure. With very few films to her name and the added pressure of being Sridevi’s daughter, Kapoor definitely has a long way to go in the industry. Kapoor’s character, however, is one that is steadfast, passionate and dedicated towards her art. Not only does Saxena teach a lesson to her male counterparts, she also teaches women about men who are insecure. The movie tells the story of men who are scared to see a woman succeed for their egos do not allow her to rise to power.

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Gunjan Saxena is a story of strength, commitment, passion and resilience. It is the journey that one makes not just to prove others wrong but to test one’s own limits and go beyond what you thought you could achieve. Most importantly, it is the lesson of hard work and skill, attributes which are not gender-specific, much like the dreams that many dream of.


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