Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is a Netflix original produced by Zee & Dharma Productions. With the nepotism dialogue at its peak, many will miss a cinematic gem but this film is helmed by a debut director, Sharan Sharma who was an Assitant Director of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and written by the Dangal-fame writer Nikhil Nikhil Mehrotra whom together created the screenplay of this film. Editor Nitin Baid who edited Masaan, Raazi and Gully Boy created magic once more!
This is an intelligently written narrative inspired by the true story of real-life Air Force Pilot, Gunjan Saxena (Janhvi Kapoor) and her journey to attaining her dream of becoming a pilot. The movie orbits around 3 phases of Gunjan Saxena’s life; The formative years as a child to a high achieving teenager who works hard to make her dreams a reality with the support of her endearing father who is her only support system. Set in the 90s, we saw a father who was unwavering and unconventional. The struggle phase is most pivotal to the narrative where we witness workplace sexism, male chauvinism until she was given a chance based on her credibility and not her gender. The Triumphant Phase is where she beat all odds and was victorious in her first mission at the LOC Kargil War. All three parts of the narrative have a distinct purpose and none try to overreach.
As the narrative moves through these phases of her life, we see a spectrum of men – a super supportive father with a defence background, a cautious older brother in the military, an incorrigible misogynist superior (Vineet Kumar Singh), and a supportive leader (Manav Vij) who puts credibility over gender. Each reflects a school of thought towards equal rights, as we see in society.
Janhvi Kapoor delivers a career-defining performance. She is convincing as the 24-year-old Gunjan Saxena. She is brilliant in the emotional sequences. She captures our attention whenever she is on screen. After Dhadak and her feature in Ghost Stories, Janhvi shines as Gunjan Saxena. Pankaj Tripathi is simply endearing as the calm and supportive father who never differentiates between his son and his daughter. His presence is a delight on the screen, he is truly the gem of contemporary Indian storytelling. Angad Bedi, as Gunjan Saxena’s brother, delivers a memorable performance. Ayesha Raza Mishra as Janhvi’s mother is the perfect 90s Indian Mom, Manav Vij as the encouraging leader is great onscreen. Vineet Kumar Singh as a senior officer who challenges Gunjan performs with ease and conviction.
The screenplay is crisp and polished, the cinematography is impressive and would have been a treat on the big screen, the direction by Sharan Sharma is clear and moves the storytelling with finesse, the fitting background score and powerful performances make this an endearing experience of how a woman made her dreams a reality. The editing is the fantastic and the background score and music by Amit Trivedi is wonderfully weaved into the narrative. The action and flying sequences are powerful.
Gunjan Saxena; The Kargil Girl is now streaming on Netlfix.