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Director: Sharan Sharma

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Angad Bedi, Viineet Kumar and Manav Vij

Written by: Nikhil Mehrotra and Sharan Sharma

Streaming On: Netflix

GUNJAN SAXENA: THE KARGIL GIRL is a biopic on the life of IAF’s first female pilot Gunjan Saxena. The film starts of in the year 1999 in the midst of the Kargil war. Gunjan Saxena (Janhvi Kapoor) is running to her helicopter to undertake a rescue mission of an injured Indian army soldier. The film then cuts to the past and goes on from there. Gunjan is a kid and has been fascinated by airplanes. Since the first time she flies in an aircraft, it becomes her dream to be a pilot. Time files and she’s grown up and in her 10th. Her grades are out and she finds she’s aced the exams and is sad about it because she will be forced to pursue further studies and won’t be able to leave studies to become a pilot. Somehow, she manages to convey her wishes to her parents. Her mom and her brother (Angad Bedi) are appalled and unsupportive of her decision but her father (Pankaj Tripathi) is very supportive and wants to help her in achieving her dream. She goes to interview to take admission into the institute where she wpuld learn to be a pilot and there finds out that the minimum requirements to qualify is passing 12th grade. She tries again after two years and finds out it’s after graduation. She doesn’t give up and returns after her graduation only to find out the fees for learning are now 10 lakh. Dejected upon finding out, she returns home. Soon, she learns about Indian Air Force (IAF) hiring women candidates and with the support of her father, she applies. Through luck and a lot of hard work she manages to become an officer of the Indian Air Force. The struggles she faced and how she overcame those troubles form the rest of the film.

The film is a biopic based on the life of IAF pilot Gunjan Saxena. Before the film starts there is a disclaimer that says some scenes have been dramatized, and certainly they have been, a little bit too much for our liking. Although a few things may be hard to believe, even though the times have now changed but the things could still be true for the time the film is based in. The story is certainly inspiring and it gets the message across well. It etches out the journey well but would have been better if there were more war based sequences in the film.

Technically, the film is great. Cinematography by Manush Nandan is great and he captures some scenes very well, especially the war bit. Editing by Nitin Baid is sans complaint but could have been more fine tuned in certain places. Music has been used well and it carries the story forward, but is not really chartbuster worthy. Writing could have been better, especially the dialogues which seem very weak and amateurish in certain places. The production design and costume design are fantastic.

Performances from the actors have been great as well. Janhvi Kapoor as Gunjan is really good and gets the act right. She puts herself in her shoes and becomes one with the character and is endearing to watch. Pankaj Tripathi as Gunjan’s father is as dependable as ever. He supports Janhvi brilliantly and holds the ship steady. Angad Bedi does well but a badly etched character probably holds him back. The rest of the cast offer good support.

On the whole, GUNJAN SAXENA: THE KARGIL GIRL is a measured and a very assured debut by director Sharan Sharma. He is able to get some top notch performances, especially from Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi.


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