Movie lovers have been looking forward to Gunjan Saxena ever since its first poster displaying a bubbly Janhvi Kapoor came out. There were many looming questions – whether the newbie would be able to carry the titular role or how much of the Kargil War would be recreated.
Putting all our doubts at bay, Gunjan Saxena hits the right chord and gives the push we need to never give up on our dreams. From Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi to supporting actors like Angad Bedi, Manav Vij, Ayesha Raza, the entire cast stands tall and creates impact with their roles, no matter the quantity.
While it revolves around Gunjan Saxena (Janhvi Kapoor) and her journey up until she became India’s first female combat pilot, the father-daughter relationship forms the essence of the film. Gunjan wants to fly, and her father (Pankaj Tripathi) is the wind beneath her wings.
The movie begins with a tense fight scene and gets our adrenaline rushing immediately. Then comes a flashback, taking us to the exact moment in which Gunjan’s dream to become a pilot was born. From a young age, she learns that not many will support her passion, because “ladkiyan thodhi na pilot banti hain” But lucky for her, she has a father who stands by her like a rock and guides her through her hiccups.
After convincing her family somehow, she applies for the Air Force, but the road ahead is filled with more obstacles. Venturing into a field dominated by men, Gunjan faces neglect and humiliation. Not because she is any less gifted or determined than her male counterparts, but because she is a woman.
It takes her triple the efforts as compared to others to prove her mettle, and yet there’s no acceptance. The crowd dissolves whenever she comes and fellow trainees turn away at her sight to avoid saluting her.
Driven by nothing but her passion to fly airplanes, Gunjan overcomes all odds and serves her country in its hour of need.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is certainly about a war, but not just the war we were expecting. It is about a fight against patriarchy and centuries of stereotypes and prejudices. That said, one cannot help but notice how Gunjan, despite her prowess, never flies without a male companion.
The training scenes are interesting to watch, the most precious moments of the film are those involving the Saxena family. Whether it’s the heart-to-heart between Gunjan and her dad, or the conversations with her brother (Angad Bedi).
As an actor, Janhvi Kapoor may need more refinement but the movie made good use of her rawness. The only place where she somewhat flounders is the confrontation scene – where a Gunjan who has had it finally calls out her senior for all the injustices she has had to face.
But all in all, the three films old Janhvi Kapoor did a fairly good job. Being around the same age as her character, Kapoor was able to bring her vulnerabilities and her exuberance to life.
Pankaj Tripathi remained his calm and collected self and as in Gunjan’s life, was the embodiment of hope and positivity.
While Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi are the heart and soul of the film, another duo deserves appreciation too. Director Sharan Sharma and Dangal co-writer Nikhil Mehrotra did an excellent job in penning a genuine and heartfelt script. The honesty is captured in moments like when Gunjan asks whether she is doing wrong by her country, joining the Air Force not out of patriotism, but only because she wants to become a pilot.
However, the real treasure of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is that it doesn’t thrive on chest-thumping or excessive jingoism, unlike most patriotic films.