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New film sets the bar in Indian cinema, heroines

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times Share:
The heroines long supporting farther beams with pride as he embraces his daughter. Netflix

Millions of women around the world are not realising their dreams for countless reasons, from marriage and motherhood to societal pressure and pre-designated gender roles. The latest Indian film on Netflix – Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl – deals with these issues head-on in a story which covers the trajectory of an Indian woman-come-heroine, who overcomes the odds to achieve her dream.

Based on the famous female air-force pilot who, during the 1999 Kargil war, displayed extraordinary courage, the film begins with a young Gunjan Saxena (Janhvi Kapoor)
in a passenger flight with her older brother Anshuman.

When her brother, who is sitting in a window seat, does not allow her to look out of the plane window, an air hostess takes pity on her, takes Gunjan to the cockpit and her experience sparks her dream of becoming a pilot.

Although Gujan’s mother and brother, both of whom think only men can fly a plane, her father Anup – a military officer and a firm believer of gender equality – supports her dreams.

However, her family still cannot afford the tuition for flight school and she begins to lose hope until an advertisement in a newspaper for the Indian Air Force provides Gunjan the golden opportunity.

Despite the controversy over Janhvi Kapoo appointment to the role, she looked natural on-screen throughout what was a multifaceted character. Netflix

The advert proves the catalyst for Gunjan’s journey to realising her dreams, however, not before many trials and tribulations in between at the all-male academy where she is sent to train.

While Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is bookended by scenes of war, the real battle lies in the life of the protagonist, as she pursues her dream by proving her doubters wrong
in a masterfully directed epic drama by Bollywood’s own Sharan Sharma.

The biopic tells the story of Gunjan through the series of tests taken by the leading lady, before reaching the climax, demonstrating the summation of her achievements. This happens on screen in a very simple but exciting turn of events that not only engages the audience but garners their support, backed up by a perfectly matched soundtrack which empathises the emotional connections viewers feel.

Although producer Karan Johar has been criticised for nepotism after putting Indian emerging star Janhvi Kapoor – a member of the Kapoor dynasty – in the leading role, Janhvi’s performance does deserve praise. She looks believable in a role that transforms from a young, sometimes silly girl who dreams big into a serious air-force officer, unafraid of war and in the end, a national heroine.

The film is also supported by a strong cast for her to bounce off, especially in Pankaj Tripathi, who plays her on-screen father.

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl has set the bar for Indian films on the streaming website and it deserves a watch for everyone to not only understand gender bias and struggle but be inspired by the will of a woman who proved against the odds, it can be overcome.

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