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Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is a 2020 Indian Hindi-language biographical film directed by Sharan Sharma and produced under Dharma Productions and Zee Studios. The film stars Janhvi Kapoor as Indian Air Force pilot Gunjan Saxena, the first Indian female air-force pilot in combat, alongside Pankaj Tripathi and Angad Bedi in supporting roles.
Principal photography commenced in February 2019 and was wrapped up in October; it was extensively filmed across Lucknow. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was unable to release theatrically and was picked up for distribution by Netflix.] It was released globally on 12 August 2020
Beginning in Lucknow, 1984, the story begins with young Gunjan Saxena on a flight along with her older brother, Anshuman. Gunjan wants to look out of the airplane window, but Anshuman doesn’t let her. A kind air hostess tends to the problem and takes Gunjan to the cockpit. Looking at the cockpit immediately sparks a desire in her mind to become a pilot as she feels enthusiastic about the plane’s features.
A few years later, Gunjan is congratulated for her academic excellence with her proud parents, Anup and Kirti, planning to send her to high school. Gunjan, however, wants to drop out of high school to become a pilot. Anshuman feels that women should not be in the cockpit, but Anup strongly disagrees. A firm believer in gender equality, he allows Gunjan to experiment with her desire to become a pilot. Gunjan makes multiple attempts, but these are thwarted by concerns regarding her educational qualifications and high costs, causing her to return home depressed each time. While her parents differ in their outlook towards her dream, with Kirti hoping her daughter would soon be wary and Anup insistent on allowing his daughter to pursue her dreams relentlessly, an advertisement in a newspaper for acceptance into the Indian Air Force provides Gunjan just the right opportunity for making an effort to enter the air force. Anshuman, who is himself serving in the army, completely disapproves and tells Gunjan that the Air Force isn’t a place for women. She, however, ignores him, and goes ahead with the formalities, later finding out on the day of the results that she is the only person who got accepted.
During her medical tests, Gunjan learns that she is one centimeter too short and seven kilograms too much for the Air Force requirements. She is devastated by this but learns that she can take a retest in two weeks and discusses it with Anup, who asks her not to give up, and together they come up with a workout regime to lose weight. Across the retest, she still falls short on the height criterion, but the officers conclude that the length of her hands and legs would compensate for it, and accept her into the force. However, while Anup and Kirti are unable to contain their pride, Anshuman still remains in denial of his sister’s dedication, but Gunjan decides to ignore his reservations and commences training. During her training, she finds herself subjected to several harsh realities and inconveniences due to the male-dominated order of the air force, and contemplates leaving the camp, when a crisis situation causes her to reconsider when, in 1999, the Kargil war begins, and all Air Force pilots are needed. Gunjan is determined to take part in the war, and despite Anshuman meeting her and dissuading her from participation, disregards his reservations yet again. She finds herself badly needed in a mission and proceeds with it, but is then ordered to abort because the mission is too difficult for her. She reluctantly resigns to the camp. Suddenly, news of army soldiers being heavily wounded in the battle arrives, and it is up to her to save them.
Gunjan and another pilot take separate helicopters and go over to aid the injured soldiers. Back at the camp, army soldiers ask her to abort the mission but regardless of their opinion, she proceeds. Suddenly, as the other helicopter suffers a fire attack, Gunjan rescues the other pilot and the wounded soldiers and successfully completes a risky maneuver, despite being exposed to bullets herself. After the mission and the war, she is rewarded for her courage and bravery, with Anup feeling proud of her.