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Gunjan Saxena Proud To Be An Indian

Gunjan Saxena The Kargil Girl

Starring Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Angad Bedi

Directed by  Sharan Sharma

Rating: ****(4 stars)

 The  fierce nepotism debate ends right here. Young  Janhvi Kapoor spits  that  golden spoon out of her (privileged) mouth and throws herself into  playing India’s first female airforce pilot with the  fierce  dedication  of  a one-armed wrestler  hurling  the opponent  to  the ground  by dint of sheer dedication.

Throughout this wonderfully articulate and engaging  film, Jhanvi’s Gunjan Saxena wrestles with male  prejudice.Repeatedly  being  forced  to arm-wrestle  a  fellow-soldier so that her smirking superior  may feel….well…superior!  There  is  quiet determination  on those  melancholic eyes  of Sridevi’s daughter(yes, can’t get any more privileged  than that) when she  enters a smoky room with men dancing to  Choli ke  peeche  kya hai.

When Janhvi Kapoor has to show  her Gunjan Saxena wading obstinately  through  masculine claims to superiority she does  it without  self-congratulation.

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“You can’t find  the  ladies  toilet because   there isn’t one,” the   aforementioned   smirking superior(played with  habitual  fluency by  Vineet Kumar) tells  Gunjan. Her stricken bewildered  look reminded me   of  Octavia Spencer  in Hidden Figures, except that there’s nothing hidden about the biases Gunjan encounters  in her  journey to achieving her dream of flying high.

Some  of  the gender  bias ,  she finds  at home  in her  over-protective  brother  (Angad Bedi)  who keeps reminding his  kid sister  that he can’t be around to  cover her back all the time. It doesn’t strike him that Gunjan doesn’t need  to be looked after.

More than a  film about  a woman breaking into a   male domain , Gunjan Saxena is  about the  far-ranging  ramifications of  male entitlement . Of course there is Gunjan’s father to prove every  allegation  of  male prejudice wrong. As  played by  the  brilliant Pankaj Tripathi the father   is   progressive without trying to be .He  trains  his daughter  into self-sufficient  glory.But  he also brings up the question of whether  woman  can  make  their dreams come true without any  male  assistance at all.

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This  goes for the film as well. It makes its point about  a girl breaking  into a male domain  without shattering any  glass ceilings.The transformative spirit  animates  the inner soul  of  the  plot without  standing back to be congratulated. The  direction  by first-timer Sharan Sharma   is equanimous  and  unwilling to forfeit its  composure  for  cheap thrills.

 Miraculously the  scenes  of jets flying across  the battle line do not run amok. The CGs are  aesthetically  done .  Manush Nandan’s  camera isn’t  looking for ways to  prettify  the frames. The beauty  of  the  scenes lies in the eyes of the beholder,  in this case us .I only  wish  the  narrative  had  avoided those  intermittent songs in the background.  This film didn’t need them.It creates a  world   beautiful  in its imperfections.

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How  I missed the applause in a movie  theatre when  Gunjan Saxena  strides across the screen all ready to pilot  her destiny into the orbit.

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