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GUNJAN SAXENA - An otherwise appreciable attempt focusing on the brave daughters of the nation, that unnecessarily twists the narrative and remains confused about whom to portray as villain in the film. (Review by Bobby Sing)

19 Aug, 2020 | Movie Reviews / 2020 Releases / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / G

Screen adaptations of the spirited on-field stories of our brave soldiers have their own inspirational value. And if that story is about a young girl, one of the first woman officers performing such risky operation, then it becomes even more important both for the makers as well as the viewers unarguably.
So GUNJAN SAXENA firstly scores in its choice of subject that deserved to be presented on screen and then superbly works in its first 50 minutes in particular, that largely revolves around a father and her ambitious daughter willing to become a pilot. This specific part of the film is a winner and that’s not only because of an adorable Pankaj Tripathi and a strong supporting cast featuring Vineet Kumar, Manav Vij and Angad Bedi. But a likable Jhanvi Kapoor too who certainly shows growth as a performer, though still lacks that sharpness and polished presentation required for enacting such important character. Besides, this first hour of the film also impresses, as here we neither get into any forced romance nor any love song breaking the typical pattern of a Hindi film.
However post this impressive hour, the film gets seriously confused about what it wishes to portray on screen for the Indian viewers as well as the people watching it all over the world. To be specific, in a film made on the biographical story of one of the first women pilot officers in the Air Force (who had fought the Kargil war), the writer and director forget to focus on the war or Pakistan (the actual opponent), and instead present our own male Air Force officers as villains, following a highly confused as well as a conflictingly strange narrative.
To be fair, gender inequality and humiliation faced by women contenders in various field surely exists but showcasing the Air Force officers doing the same as if in a private corporate firm like jealous and egoistic colleagues was not only degrading the force but Gunjan Saxena’s proud journey too unexpectedly. Honestly, I had got the shock watching the film’s trailer, but then thought may be in the film it will get balanced by some counters added later maintaining the dignity of the senior officers.
Sadly nothing of that sort happens in the complete film and GUNJAN SAXENA turns out to be a bit disappointing in its second half, before the finale war sequence. Moreover the brother-sister sequences right in between the explosions and operations in the battle-field were a bit too filmy further affecting the authenticity of its onscreen presentation.
Coming to a simple conclusion, GUNJAN SAXENA certainly deserves to be seen for its first half in particular, for Pankaj Tripathi and the story it reveals focusing on our brave daughter of India. But the film in totality is highly confusing and misleading inviting wide criticism.
How it is misleading?

After watching a well-made war-film, a viewer should ideally feel proud of country’s forces and the officers with a lot of respect in his/her heart while moving out of the theater. However here what you have in mind after watching GUNJAN SAXENA is that how this brave lady faced major humiliation and bias during her training and even during the war. And how most of the male officers never supported her and seriously wanted her to fail.
That ideally should never be the outcome of a war film to be fair!
In other words, how can a war-film generate such kind of feeling against our own forces and officers while portraying another officer as a hero losing or rather forgetting the important, respectful balance?
GUNJAN SAXENA is also misleading in its presentation as the director never makes clear the purpose of its making in its two contrasting halves. 
Putting it bluntly, 
Was this film made to tell the inspiring story of a girl working hard for her ambition with the support of her loving father?
Was it made to tell the brave story of one of the first women officers fighting the Kargil War as a pilot?
Was this film made to expose the gender bias, exploitation and humiliation supposedly existing in the training camps of the Air Force, right under the supervision of the senior officers?
Frankly, I couldn’t really get, what purpose this film was made for, with what kind of vision and to tell what kind of real story?
Plus, now I am further confused as contradictory statements are coming in from not only Gunjan Saxena herself but from the other women Air Force officers too stating that the film has twisted it all in the name of creative freedom. In addition, now I am even informed about another lady Air Force officer HARITA KAUR DEOL, who was also one of the first women pilots joining the force at the age of only 22 in 1994, who unfortunately died in a crash only two years later. Probably that is the reason the tag line of the film says “The first Air Force woman officer who went to war.” 
Now just think for a while that how and why such contradictions are there for a film made on the brave act of our forces in Kargil War? No, I am not talking about either nepotism or Karan Johar here. I am actually pointing towards the allegations and contradictions coming from the Air Force and Air Force officers themselves pointing towards the false narrative of the film.
Taking everything into consideration, certainly the truth lies somewhere in between, but this is no doubt a case of taking too many (questionable) cinematic liberties, twisting the facts for a film that has been widely promoted and projected as a real, biographical war-story.
Having said that, I will still strongly recommend watching GUNJAN SAXENA, but I will recommend it more as an inspiring father-daughter film having many delightful conversations especially in its first hour. So do go for it and watch it with your young daughters in the family, allowing them to fly freely as high as they can without any ‘manly’ restrictions.

Because the truth is that if given the opportunity and wings to fly, the women of the world can fly much higher than the men as they are always one step ahead with many more gifted capabilities.
Rating : 3 / 5 (with a special mention of a beautifully restrained performance by Pankaj Tripathi)
Furhter addressing the friends, who like to think through their cinema and just not get carried away by the forced and imbalanced narrative!
Conflict of viewpoints and interests can definitely be there in the war-field where decisions need to be taken in split of seconds without any waiting for the official confirmations. At times, confrontation with the superiors might also be there with the enemy approaching fast and that’s exactly when the unthinkable and the unbelievable happens, becoming The HISTORY later.
One unmissable war film of its kind, based on such rare and unheard of instance is PATHS OF GLORY released in 1957, which essentially needs to be seen as it is capable of making you think in a never before manner about the war and the officers taking the decision on the battle-field.
The interested friends can read a detailed write-up on the film in BTC at the following link, having the inviting title as:
PATHS OF GLORY (1957) – A distinctive, unusual war film that boldly dares to say it and would never be re-made again.

Cannot say how you would be feeling or thinking after watching GUNJAN SAXENA, but PATHS OF GLORY would definitely blow your mind off without any slightest of doubts.

Happy Viewing! 

Tags : Gunjan Saxena Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Gunjan Saxena, Hindi Films on Kargil, Hindi War Film, New Hindi Films Review by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing.
19 Aug 2020 / Comment ( 0 )
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