In many parts of the world, women have faced discrimination in every sphere and India, sadly, is no exception. But at the same time, India is also full of inspiring stories of women who have faced and still emerged victorious over the challenges posed by gender discrimination. Bollywood, of late, has taken keen interest in such films. Last year two such motivational films were released such as MANIKARNIKA – THE QUEEN OF JHANSI and SAAND KI AANKH. For 2020, just a few weeks ago, we got a chance to witness the thrill of a ‘human computer’ at SHAKUNTALA DEVI. And now, get ready for Gunjan SAXENA – Kargil War, a story of a Kargil war hero. So does Gunjan SAXENA – KARGIL GIRL manage to entertain and thrill the audience? Or does it fail to impress? Let us analyze.
Gunjan SAXENA – KARGIL GIRL is about the arduous journey of India’s first female combat aviator. The year is 1984. Gunjan Saxena (Reva Arora), who is about 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 wants to become a pilot. In 1989, Gunjan (Janhvi Kapoor) passed the Class 10 examination with flying colors. She tells her family – father Anoop Saxena (Pankaj Tripathi), mother Kirti Saxena (Ayesha Raza Mishra) and secluded brother Anshuman (Angad Bedi) to tell her about her plans to pursue further studies so that she can fulfill her dream can do. Kirti and Anushman disapprove but Anoop tells her to go ahead. However, when she applies to a flying school, she realizes that the rules have changed and she will have to graduate. He reapplies after five years but by then, the course fees have increased to Rs. 10 lakhs, a figure which is unaffected for the Saxena family. Gunjan was disarmed. Anoop then asks her to apply to the Indian Air Force, which has recently started a course to get women officers. Gunjan is applied and emerges only as the one that gets selected. She then successfully completes her training and then returns to Udhampur Air Force Station in Jammu and Kashmir. Here, she faces heavy discrimination on her gender. Fellow officers refused to fly with her, fearing she might lay off and crash. His flight commanding officer Dilip Singh (Vineet Kumar Singh) makes it clear that he is not in the camp. And the commanding officer Gautam Sinha (Manav Vij) is also not strict and sensible. What happens next makes the rest of the film.
The story of Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma has a lot of potential and time is needed. The screenplay of Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma is watertight. The focus is not just on telling the story of Gunjan’s life, but also on ensuring that the entertainment quotient remains. They keep the narrative very simple and therefore anyone who sees it will be easy to understand. On Flipside, it is important for character names to be spoken in some way and this is something that does not happen in this film. The name of Janhvi’s parents or commanding officer Gautam Sinha has never been mentioned. In the case of Jahnavi’s brother, his surname Anshu is mentioned, but never his real name! The dialogues of Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma (in addition to Hussain Dalal) enhance the effect and the humor to another level. Again, the balance is maintained – the dialogues never change. Movies.
Sharan Sharma’s direction is superb and it is impossible to say that this is his first film. He stays focused on the story without adding romantic angles or anything of that sort. He also holds the duration firmly – the film is just 1.52 hours long. And thanks to his narrative, boredom doesn’t creep in even for a moment and a lot is happening in the film every now and then. On the flipside, the battle scenes in the final 20 minutes could have been more thrilling and terrifying for better effect. Also, Sharan Janhvi fails to extract the desired performance from Kapoor. More on that later!
Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl: The Story Behind | Janhvi Kapoor
Gunjan SAXENA – KARGIL GIRL starts on a tiring and thrilling note. Gunjan’s entry is heroic and it must have been fun to watch it in theaters between clap and whistles! The film then moves on to flashback mode, but before this happens, it makes it clear that the country is at war and is left in aerial missions despite Gunjan being able to. Gunjan’s growing-up years have been dealt with in a very entertaining and hilarious way. Several scenes stand out here – young Gunjan in the cockpit, party sequence and late-night conversations by Gunjan’s parents. However, two scenes take the cake in the first half. The first thing is that when Gunjan started Bollywood Gossip when he was asked to comment on current affairs – it sure is to bring the house down! And another is when Anoop explained to Gunjan the true meaning of patriotism. The second half is where the film is heavily hummed as Gunjan faces obstacles at the Udhampur base. The film ends on a very emotional note.
Janhvi Kapoor gives a good performance and one can understand that she gave her best, physically and emotionally to the film. But she does not have many emotions that would enhance her performance as well as the film. On the positive, she is great at scenes where she fails to reach the starrer in time or scenes where she encounters Dalip Singh. Pankaj Tripathi is outstanding and it is definitely one of his most efficient performances. He would love for his role as a supportive father – every girl would wish for a father like him. Though he did an excellent job throughout the film, the scene where he takes Gunjan to the kitchen is something worth watching. Angad Bedi is strictly fine. Ayesha Raza Mishra plays her role well. Vineet Kumar Singh gives a very good performance as always. However, it is surprising why his role is credited as a special appearance. Manav Vij leaves a huge scar and he suits the part. Manish Verma (SSB officer Sameer Mehra, who trains Gunjan) is memorable. Same for Yogendra Singh (Pilot Montu) and Akash Dhar (Pilot Shekhar). Other artists who do well are Reva Arora, Maria Shrishti (Air Hostess), Barbie Rajput (Gunnu’s friend Mannu), Rajesh Balwani (Clerk in 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 but is well woven into the narrative. ‘Bharat Ki Beti’ Standing outside and moving a lot. ‘Rekha O Rekha’ Is hilarious and very funny and also serves as a beautiful UB for actress Rekha. ‘Dhoom Dhadaka’ It is catchy, but in the end it becomes useless when played during the credits. ‘Asmaan Di Pari’, ‘Man ki dori’ And ‘Lanyard broken’ Okay. John Stewart Eduri’s background score enhances the effect.
Manusha Nandan’s cinematography is stunning and captures different moods well. The location of Georgia works well for the film as it has an resemblance to the Kashmir Valley. The production design of Aditya Kanwar is rich. Samidha Wanganu’s costumes are very realistic. Vikram Dahiya’s action is subtle and not at all. Special mention should also go to Mark Wolff’s stunts and aerial coordination. VFX of Red Chillies.VFX is very good. Nitin Baid’s editing is a topnotch because a lot is packed in 112 minutes and yet it doesn’t seem to work in a hurry.
Overall, Gunjan SAXENA – The Kargil GIRL is a well-narrated story of a female war hero from India. Despite some minuses, this flick will touch a raga especially with family audiences.