KARACHI: The Jhanvi Kapoor starrer is in hot waters again, and this time it is not over just nepotism. The film was based on the experiences of former Indian Air Force pilot, Gunjan Saxena during the 1999 Kargil War fought between India and Pakistan. The film is now being called out for its portrayal of gender discrimination and twisting of actual facts.
According to Hindustan Times, Retired Wing Commander Namrita Chandi wrote an open letter about how Gunjan Saxena was not India’s first female IAF pilot. She wrote, “Srividya Rajan was the first lady pilot who flew to Kargil – not Gunjan. Though, I am certain that Srividya has no complaints about this credit being taken away from her.”
In a recent Facebook status, Sreevidya Rajan slammed Dharma Production not only for factual inaccuracies, portraying Saxena as the first female pilot of IAF, but also of how it portrayed a misogynistic image of the IAF to the public, which really wasn’t the case.
Rajan clarified: “Both of us were posted to Udhampur in 1996 but in the movie, it was shown that she was the only lady pilot posted at the unit. Since the two of us were the first lady pilots to be posted to that helicopter unit, we were skeptical about our acceptance in the male-dominated niche area of flying. We were received with the usual preconceived notions and prejudices from a few colleagues. However, there were enough officers to support us.”
She went on to remark that the film has taken way too many artistic liberties with the actual story, portraying her as a victim instead of the hardworking and thorough professional that she was. “She had many achievements during her career which should have been portrayed to inspire the younger generation instead of showing her as a weak and oppressed victim in certain scenes.”
Earlier, speaking to Deccan Chronicles, several female officers showed their distaste for the film and how the portrayal of IAF has mostly been inaccurate.
The IAF had sent Dharma Productions, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and Netflix a note stating their disappointment. “Our main concern is the incorrect portrayal of gender bias in the IAF. It is a well-known fact that the Indian Air Force has the largest number of women officers serving actively. The IAF was the first to open all its branches to women officers, including combat roles in 2015. This wouldn’t have been possible without an unbiased policy. Everything in the defence forces is done on merit alone,” reported an IAF spokesperson.
Rajan lamented how this film was a biopic and both Gunjan Saxena and the production company could have made more of an effort in making sure that the information portrayed was accurate.
Gunjan Saxena came to the defense of her biopic in a blog written for NDTV: “Let me inform readers with utmost conviction and honesty that even though cinematic liberties were exercised in my biopic by the filmmakers, what they did not miss or exaggerate was me, the real Gunjan Saxena. I admit without hesitation that I have even more of an iron will and resoluteness than was portrayed in the movie.” She also wrote that it ‘was absolutely disheartening to see a small group of people trying to dent this hard-earned reputation with nonsensical rants’.