Janhvi Kapoor's Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl has been in the midst of a controversy ever since the film premiered on Netflix. Earlier, the Indian Air Force (IAF) raised objections over its 'undue negative' portrayal in the film. Now, Gunjan Saxena's coursemate, Flight Lieutenant (retd) Sreevidya Rajan has slammed the makers for twisting the facts in the biopic in a Facebook post.
Gunjan Saxena And Sreevidya Rajan Trained Together At The Air Force Academy And Helicopter Training School
Talking about it, Sreevidya wrote in her post, "Both of us were posted to Udhampur in 1996 but in the movie, it was shown that she was the only lady pilot posted at the unit. Since the two of us were the first lady pilots to be posted to that helicopter unit, we were skeptical about our acceptance in the male-dominated niche area of flying. We were received with the usual preconceived notions and prejudices from a few colleagues. However, there were enough officers to support us."
Sreevidya Says Majority Of Their Counterparts Accepted And Treated Them As Fellow Officers
She continued, "We were under strict scrutiny and certain mistakes of ours were met with corrective actions which may have been overlooked had it been done by our male counterparts. We had to work harder than our counterparts to prove ourselves to be at par with them. Some were not happy to share the professional space with us but the majority accepted and treated us as fellow officers working towards a common goal."
Sreevidya Slams The Makers For The Creative Liberties In The Biopic
In Janhvi Kapoor's film, the makers have shown that Gunjan's sorties are cancelled on a regular basis because no male officer is comfortable flying with her. She is also asked to arm-wrestle as a show of strength. However, Sreevidya denied these incidents in her post.
She wrote, "Our flying began within a few days of our arrival and was never interrupted or cancelled for petty reasons as wrongly portrayed in the movie. The squadron commander was a thorough professional. He was a very strict and tough officer who took us to task whenever there was a mistake from our side, be it male or female. We never faced any humiliating physical strength demonstrations as shown in the movie. We were never ill-treated or humiliated by our fellow officers."
However, Sreevidya agreed that there were no separate toilet facilities and changing rooms for women at the Udhampur air base, as shown in the film. But, their fellow officers ‘always accommodated and helped us'.
In her post, Sreevidya also wrote that it was ‘factually incorrect' to portray Gunjan as the only woman pilot to conduct recce and rescue missions during the 1999 Kargil War.
Sreevidya Claims The Makers Of Gunjan Saxena Have Twisted The Facts Given By Gunjan For The Sake Of Publicity
Sreevidya wrote that she is a good friend of Gunjan and continued, "She (Gunjan) is a brilliant officer and a thorough professional. She had many achievements during her career which should have been portrayed to inspire the younger generation instead of showing her as a weak and oppressed victim in certain scenes. As the pioneers of women pilots, we were treated with utmost respect and it was our responsibility to live up to the expectations and pave way for future generations. The movie is sending out a wrong message about the lady officers of IAF there by demeaning the prestigious organisation of our country."
Sreevidya also wrote that Gunjan Saxena ‘should have made sure to show the facts and portray IAF in a positive light' before giving the biopic a green signal. Sreevidya claimed that she was the first lady pilot to fly in Kargil. However, she never claimed it in any forum before this due to her strong belief in gender equality.