Women have suffered discrimination in many parts of the world and India is no exception in this. But there are many such inspiring stories of women in India who faced the challenges posed by gender discrimination but eventually succeeded. Bollywood nowadays has started taking interest in such inspiring stories. Where last year Manikarnika and Saand Ki Aankh were films woven from the inspiring story of such a woman, now in 2020 also such films are being seen. Where just a few days ago, the film called Shakuntala Devi, which is called the human computer of the country, was released, now the film based on the life of the country’s brave female pilot Gunjan Saxena, Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl has been released. So will this film manage to entertain the audience, or will it fail in its endeavor, let’s review.
Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl is based on the incredible real life of Indian Air Force pilot Gunjan Saxena. This year is 1984. Gunjan Saxena (Riva Arora), who is almost 9 years old, is traveling in an airplane with her family. He gets a chance to enter the cockpit and experience the magic of flying a plane. She immediately decides that she will grow up to be a pilot. In 1989, Gunjan (Janhvi Kapoor) passed the class 10 exam with excellent marks. She tells her family – father Anoop Saxena (Pankaj Tripathi), mother Kirti Saxena (Ayesha Raza Mishra) and soldier brother Anshuman (Angad Bedi) about giving up her further studies to make her dreams come true. While Gunjan’s mother and brother stop her from moving forward, her father Anup encourages her to move forward. She enrolls in a flying school but then learns that the new rules require her to graduate. After that she applies again after five years but now the fee for this course has increased which her parents cannot afford. This breaks Gunjan’s heart. Anoop tells her to apply to the Indian Air Force as it has recently started a course to recruit women officers. Gunjan fills that form and gets selected. She successfully completes her training and is posted at Udhampur Air Force Station in Jammu and Kashmir. Being the only woman officer here, she has to face discrimination. The officers accompanying him refuse to fly with him. His Flight Commanding Officer Dilip Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) makes it clear that he has little to do in the camp. What happens next after this, it will be known after watching the next film.
The story of Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma has a lot of potential and is the need of the hour. Screenplay of Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma is tight. The focus of the film is not just on narrating the story of Gunjan’s life, but equally on ensuring that the entertainment remains the same. They keep the story very simple and hence it will be easy to understand for anyone who sees it. On the contrary, how important it is to use the names of the characters is not seen in this film. The name of Jhanvi’s father Commanding Officer Gautam Sinha is never mentioned. The name of Jhanvi’s brother was also given only as a nickname, while his real name was not disclosed. Dialogues by Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma (additional dialogues by Hussain Dalal) enhance the impact and take the humor to another level. It needs to be said here again that a balance is maintained in everything – the dialogues don’t sound too filmy anywhere.
Sharan Sharma’s direction is superb and it is impossible to say that with this film he marks his directorial debut. He has focused on the story of the film without adding any romantic angle or anything. He has also taken good care of the duration of the film. As a result the film is just 1.52 hours long. Every moment something or the other happens in the film, the credit goes to the narration due to which there is no boredom at all. Conversely, the final 20-minute battle scenes could have been made a bit more exciting to enhance the effect of the film. Apart from this, Sharan was not able to get the required performance out of Jhanvi.
Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl starts off on a tense and thrilling note. Gunjan’s entry is very hero style and if this film was released in theatres, this scene would have been greeted with whistles and applause. The movie then goes into flashback mode. But before that it is clarified that there is a war situation in the country and Gunjan has been thrown out of the air operations despite being able to do so. The growing years of Gunjan are depicted in a very entertaining manner. Many scenes are wonderful. Like- Young Gunjan being in the cockpit, party sequence, late night conversation of Gunjan’s parents. All these scenes are seen in the first half. The film gets a bit serious from the second half as Gunjan has to face difficulties at the Udhampur base. The ending of the film is going to be quite emotional.
Jhanvi Kapoor gives a stellar performance and one can say that she has given her best to this film be it physically or emotionally. But if she had brought a little variety in her expressions, it would have added to her acting and film both. But there she gets caught in some scenes. Pankaj Tripathi looks stunning and this is definitely one of his finest performances. His character as a supporting father will be loved. He has dominated the entire film. The scene in which he drags Jhanvi to the kitchen is a sight to behold. Angad Bedi is fine in his role. Ayesha Raza Mishra plays her role well. Vineet Kumar Singh gives a great performance as always. However, it makes one wonder why his role is given credit as a special experience. Manav Vij leaves an indelible mark and suits his role. Manish Verma (SSB officer Sameer Mehra, who trains Gunjan) is memorable. Yogendra Singh (Pilot Montu) and Akash Dhar (Pilot Shekhar) also suit their roles. Other actors who do well are Riva Arora, Maria Shrishti (air hostess), Barbie Rajput (Gunjan’s friend Mannu), Rajesh Balwani (clerk at Delhi Flying School) and Gulshan Pandey (chief officer of Srinagar Air Force Station).
Amit Trivedi’s music is fine but mostly situational. The film has 6 songs which are well woven into the story. ‘Bharat Ki Beti’ is brilliant and progresses well. ‘Rekha O Rekha’ is hilarious and very funny. ‘Dhoom Dhadaka’ is catchy but played during the end credits makes it useless. ‘Asman Di Pari’, ‘Mann Ki Dori’ and ‘Dori Tut Gayeen’ are fine. Jon Stewart Eduri’s background score enhances the effect.
Manush Nandan’s cinematography is superb and captures the various moods of the film well. The location of Georgia works well for the film as it feels like the Kashmir Valley. Aditya Kanwar’s production design is rich. Samidha Wangnoo’s costume looks very real. Vikram Dahiya’s action sequences are good and there is no bloodshed at all. Marc Wolff’s action and aerial feats are commendable. Red Chillies.VFX’s VFX is very good. Nitin Baid’s editing is superb as he showed a lot in just 112 minutes and even then there is nothing in a hurry.
Overall, Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl is a well made film on a female warrior from India. Despite some shortcomings, the film will touch the hearts of majority of the audience, especially the family audience.