Gunjan Saxena responds to claims her biopic is ‘peddling lies’: ‘Trying to dent hard-earned reputation with nonsensical rants’
The real-life Gunjan Saxena has responded to the row around her biopic, Sharan Sharma’s Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, saying that she is trying to clear the dust after “some people have tried to distort the basic founding values of my existence and identity”.
The Janhvi Kapoor film has been in the eye of storm with the Indian Air Force (IAF) writing a letter to the Censor Board objecting to its “undue negative” portrayal. A number of IAF officers, including Gunjan’s coursemate, Flight Lieutenant Sreevidya Rajan (retd), have claimed that facts are being ‘twisted’ by the filmmakers.
Retired Wing Commander Namrita Chandi, in an open letter, had also accused the filmmakers of “peddling lies.” She wrote, “Srividya Rajan was the first lady pilot who flew to Kargil – not Gunjan. Though, I am certain that Srividya has no complaints about this credit being taken away from her.”
In her reply, Gunjan wrote on NDTV, “Let me inform readers with utmost conviction and honesty that even though cinematic liberties were exercised in my biopic by the filmmakers, what they did not miss or exaggerate was me, the real Gunjan Saxena. I admit without hesitation that I have even more of an iron will and resoluteness than was portrayed in the movie.”
The retired flight lieutenant went on to write that it “was absolutely disheartening to see a small group of people trying to dent this hard-earned reputation with nonsensical rants,” as she mentioned the many firsts to her name. The list included first in the order of merit during basic and helicopter training, the first woman to fly in a combat zone, the first ‘BG’ among women helicopter pilots and the first woman officer to undergo the jungle and snow survival course.
She also took a dig at an article that claimed that she was not the first woman pilot in the Kargil War and that the film is ‘peddling lies’. “Now, for all of you reading this absurd propaganda and ranting over the “peddling of lies”, there is a humble submission. The author, claiming to protect the image of the IAF for whatever vested interests or hidden agenda, is questioning the very authenticity of the Air Force’s stand in 1999 after the Kargil war.”
Talking about the way gender bias has been portrayed in the film, Gunjan wrote, “When I joined there was no discrimination at the organizational level. But yes, individually, no two people are the same and some individuals adapt to change better than others. Since the bias is not at an organizational level, the experiences of different woman officers would be different. To deny it completely speaks of a feudal mindset and undermines the grit of women Officers. I also combated the difficulties of prejudice and discrimination at the hands of a few individuals for being a woman. But since it was never at the organisational level, I got equal opportunities all the time.”
She also responded to a senior journalist’s critique of the film. “It is creative license, which is certainly not with me but with the makers of the movie. But the intention of the movie was to inspire people to chase their dreams with hope and positivity, the way I chased mine. The entire storyline was based on the theme of my journey, how my dreams became reality. As I understand, the film was never intended to be a documentary on the Kargil war.”
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