Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl Movie Review

Gunjan Saxena wrote history by flying the Indian fighter jet over a tough position in Kargil War and that made her the Kargil Girl. She was the first woman to fly a fighter jet in Indian Air Force and that makes her story a very riveting one to know and take inspiration from. Hence, Karan Johar decided to make the film on her story as a producer.

He took Janhvi Kapoor, daughter of Sridevi to play the lead role. Before Sushanth Singh Rajput’s death, he was promoting the film very vigorously. But after Sushanth’s death as the entire media and Internet world decided to make him the culprit, he chose to stay away from the promotions or even any film related work. Hence, the movie released on Netflix without much buzz going around it on 12th August. Let’s discuss about the story and performances in the film …

Plot: Gunjan Saxena (Janhvi Kapoor) dreams about becoming a pilot from her young age. She decides to join the army like her brother and asks her father (Pankaj Tripathi) to help her in realising the dream. He supports her decision against the resistance from society and even family. Later, she finds herself having to deal with more prejudiced and rigid officials in Army. She tries to triumph under all the judgemental looks and becomes the Kargil Girl. How? Watch the movie.

Performances: Janhvi Kapoor like Alia Bhatt seems to have taken up a challenging role early in her career to prove that she is not just pretty face and daughter of diva like Sridevi. She wanted to prove that like her mother she is also a good actress. While she could get the body language right and even dialogue delivery her facial expressions seem too rigid at this point. She needs to work on them for sure.

Pankaj Tirpathi shines in a role of a progressive father and he sells the core of the emotional background in the story well. Other actors seem to have been asked in one note and one note only.

Technicalities: Writing by Nikhil Malhotra and Sharran Kumar seems to given an ode to 80’s cinema style sans the flamboyance. They have gone a little bit overboard in projecting army officers as rigid in accepting a lady pilot amongst them to increase the dramatic value of Gunjan Saxena’s achievement but they circled round and round at the same point for longest period of the runtime. Rather than looking at the film as an epic tale, may be looking at it as a simple human triumph might have helped them write better and keep it even more real.

Manush Nandan’s lens explored the change in story terrains very well. Nitin Baid’s editing could have been better. Background score could have been much better too. Director Sharan Sharma seems to have gotten carried away by the weight of the opportunity and he tried to over achieve at times undermining the story he had in his hand. Film could have done away with many cliches but he seems to have built the plot around them and that is a big issue for viewer. He delivered on the action scenes and simple moments. Hope he had go for them more.

Analysis: Gunjan Saxena film talks about what kind of prejudice a woman has to face in male-dominated world and in professional career, especially in jobs that are majorly determined as “male jobs only”. The exclusivity that men feel entitled in performing such jobs and their judgemental predetermination that a woman will fail in that job is also discussed. While this is discussed prominently, to show the increase the value of triumphant achievement of Gunjan Saxena in real life, the film seems to have gone overboard in showing few characters as villains. Seems like even in biopics, we need to stick to the black and white projection of characters when they can be grey.

The movie has few good performances from Pankaj Tripathi, Janhvi Kapoor working for it but the writing doesn’t really appreciate the opportunity of writing something more than a feminist dream. Movie could have been a riveting tale about personal triumph and thereby an inspiration. But in trying to project it as a moment of triumph for every Indian woman, it undermines its own story. Movie can be watched once, for the performances.

Bottom line: Good but could have been better!

Rating: 2.5/5

Available on Netflix

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