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Gunjan Saxena's biopic beside Truth or Fact

By Smriti Tripathi

"Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena makes history in her journey from aspiring aviator to India's first female combat pilot in the Kargil war" - This is the introduction line of movie Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl released on 12 August 2020 at Netflix starred by Janhvi Kapoor. What makes this line controversial is that this claim was rejected by another woman pilot. Flight Lieutenant Sreevidya Rajan (Retd) claimed she was posted to the Udhampur base and that she, not Gunjan, was the first woman to fly in Kargil. However, the claims and counterclaims, some right and some wrong became the hot topic of the discussion and a social media buzz and have been shrouded in controversy for weeks now.

There are many interviews and articles of IAF officers which claimed that the movie portrayed many scenes in that way which is not based on reality. Dharma production totally manipulated the truth and made the life story of a fearless young officer Kargil girl as an image of "bechari" which evoked sympathy on gender bias terms. These are the reasons why Karan Johar is badly trolled by people.

“In the aim to glorify the screen character of ‘Ex-Flt Lt Gunjan Saxena’, Dharma Productions presented some situations that are misleading and portray an inappropriate work culture especially against women within the IAF,” the IAF’s letter to the CBFC read.

"We never used to have telephones in our rooms but a phone was put in my room because they thought that in the dark she shouldn't be standing in the mess to receive a call, so she must have a phone in the room. A lot of men didn’t like it that I was getting special treatment. We couldn’t dial out of it but yes, we could receive phone calls. When we were within the academy we were flown to Delhi because it had been the Golden Jubilee year of Indian Air Force and therefore the entire batch came to Delhi. We were flown in an aircraft and met the President then whereas our male counterparts were in Hyderabad running around. Those aspects also were there." Anupama Joshi tells in an interview.

The Kargil Girl projects the retired officer because of the first woman helicopter pilot of the IAF, which is completely false. The movie also shows her because of the only woman pilot of her era, which is, additionally, not true.

Wing Commander I.K. Khanna (Retd) wrote in a piece of writing that the primary batch of seven women pilots had received the Air Force Station at Yelahanka, Bangalore, in July 1994 to commence training on IAF transport aircraft. So, Gunjan Saxena couldn't become the primary pilot to hitch the IAF in 1999 — which is when the Kargil battle happened — since tons of women were already flying for the force. Gunjan Saxena has also been wrongly identified within the social media and certain media reports as having been awarded a Shaurya Chakra, which she hasn’t. Overall, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl turned from an inspiring life story of a female officer to another false and pathetic Bollywood drama.

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