What Shouldn't Have Been Fictionalised in 'Gunjan Saxena'?

Ex IAF Officers Anupama Joshi & Archana Kapoor point out the discrepancies in Janhvi Kapoor starer 'Gunjan Saxena.'

Updated
Now Rolling
3 min read

Janhvi Kapoor's latest film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl has been shrouded in controversy for weeks now. Post the release, the Indian Air Force wrote 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 officers have been misrepresented.

The Quint spoke with (retd) Wing Commander Anupama Joshi and (retd) Sqn Ldr Archana Kapoor who separated fiction from reality. Anupama Joshi is from the first batch of women ever inducted in the IAF and Archana Kapoor is from the first batch of women in flying in IAF.

Sorties can't be cancelled 

"Their sorties were never cancelled. It’s never happened to any of us. Sorties literally take 24 hours of planning. Even a crew change cannot happen just off the turf," says Archana Kapoor.

Reverse bias towards women

"When I went to Baroda, I was alone. There was no other woman officer. There was reverse bias, I feel, towards women because it was a novelty, it was new. It was like an experiment, so people were extremely careful with women. The Air Force had not decided what the uniform of the women should be. So for a month or so, we were wearing civilian clothes. And then we said that we must have the same uniform as the men, that’s how women wear the same uniform," says Anupama Joshi.

Gunjan was not the first BG woman pilot

"I tell you she was not the first BG pilot. It’s very difficult to say. Honestly speaking, to say that I can say with conviction that I was a BG before any other pilot may not be possible. The examining teams keep visiting from station to station and they visit every week," says Archana Kapoor.

Lady officers were treated well

"We never used to have telephones in our rooms but a phone was put in my room because they thought that at night she should not be standing in the mess to receive a call, so she must have a phone in the room. A lot of men didn’t like it that I was getting special treatment. We couldn’t dial out of it but yes, we could receive phone calls. When we were in the academy we were flown to Delhi because it was the Golden Jubilee year of Indian Air Force and the entire batch came to Delhi. We were flown in an aircraft and met the President then whereas our male counterparts were in Hyderabad running around. Those aspects are also there," Anupama Joshi tells The Quint.

Where was Sreevidya Rajan?

"Sreevidya’s character was very important to the intrinsic story of Gunjan and her role in Kargil," says Archana Kapoor.

Redressal in IAF is strong

"The chief, when we were inducted, he did say that the bottom performer of the SSB when we went was much better than the SSB cadre of men. For men, it might not be the first career whereas women with a good education are looking at Military as a career. To feel that because of sexism someone is not coming then they are completely mistaken because that could be anywhere. The military is the safest place because the redressal mechanism within the military is so strong. We are known for our discipline after all," says Anupama Joshi.

Airmen were never disrespectful

"Just to gain more and more knowledge about the aircraft, I used to spend a lot of time inside something known as the TSS. I used to spend time with the airmen trying to get to know about the aircraft and its serviceability. Even that was something I didn’t identify within the movie. It was that the airmen never resisted recognising us as officers and denying us the respect for the work that we were doing. I’d say one odd gentleman was there who had apprehensions because of the kind of background that he came from. So it did take him time, he went to the Flight Commander and said he was scared of flying with me," Archana Kapoor tells us from her flying experience.

The climax of the film is false

"Why did you try to show that she went and saved her commanding officer whose aircraft crashed, which never happened. By all means, we respect her achievements, whatever she has listed. Those were the ones that should have been highlighted," says Anupama Joshi.

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