‘Gunjan Saxena’ Movie Review: Despite Janhvi Kapoor’s shortcomings, this patriotic war drama is a fine testament for women empowerment

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Directed By
Sharan Sharma

Produced By
Karan Johar, Zee Studios, Hiroo Yash Johar, Apoorva Mehta

Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Angad Bedi, Manav Vij, Vineet Kumar Singh, Ayesha Raza Mishra

Bollywood Bubble Rating
Gunjan Saxena Janhvi Kapoor Movie ReviewWhat’s It About
‘Gunjan Saxena’ is all about how a young girl, who has childhood dreams of becoming a pilot, ends up joining the Indian Air Force to become their first female pilot. Despite all the resistance from the society, family and her peers in the army, Gunjan Saxena came out with flying colours and ended up being referred to as The Kargil Girl after her superb contribution in the 1999 India-Pakistan war at Kargil. The story revolves around Gunjan Saxena’s life until the Kargil war.

What’s Hot
I wonder why Vineet Kumar Singh gets so few opportunities to prove the massive talent that he has. He pretty much enters the film right around the mid-time, and nails it from the word go. As the Air Force officer who’s not in favour of a lady joining the IAF, Vineet Kumar Singh portrays grey shades like never before. He absolutely kills it in every frame he is in.

Do we even need to talk of Pankaj Tripathi’s genius? He has been delivering performances one after the other where he is not only likeable, but there is a certain part of his performance that always stays on with you for life. The scene with Gunjan Saxena (Janhvi Kapoor) in the kitchen is another such scene which I’ll always remember as one of his bests.

Manav Vij, even though he has minimal screen space, makes sure that he remains noticeable. Maybe in an alternate universe, we could see more of his character, as he was mighty promising.

The music of the movie by Amit Trivedi is another highlight which must be mentioned. Songs like Bharat Ki Beti and Mann Ki Dori stay on with you. To add to it, John Stewart Eduri’s background score gets the perfect patriotic emotions. The two together are sure to get tears to your eyes during the climax.

R. Dee’s cinematography brings to life the locales of Kargil. We all have seen the LOC in many different war films, but this time over, you’ll see a really different perspective of how beautiful yet hauntingly eerie the valleys of Kashmir are. R. Dee’s brilliance behind the camera is shown in apt measures.

This movie is one of the very few occasions when I am all praise for the editing of the movie. Aarif Sheikh’s edit is crisp and perfect. Seems not even a second more was wasted at any juncture. Brilliant job!

Lastly, the captain of the ship, writer-director Sharan Sharma, and his co-writer, Nikhil Mehrotra, both have done a commendable job bringing this project to life. A story on women empowerment usually tends to lean towards becoming preachy, but there isn’t an ounce of preachy feeling in this movie excepting a monologue in the kitchen from Pankaj Tripathi directed towards Janhvi Kapoor. It’s because of directors and writers like them, the audience’s belief in having a film without any romantic angle at all, grows. Kudos for that!

What’s Not
I’m not a big supporter of the nepotism debate, but yes, I am a huge supporter of good performance. So when someone (star kid or not) doesn’t perform well, I am majorly put off. This movie is one of those occasions when everyone else in the cast performed better than the lead star of the movie. It’s not that Janhvi Kapoor hasn’t put her heart and soul into the performance, she just seems misfit in the role. Janhvi isn’t fitting the look or feel of an air force officer. She somewhat looks vulnerable and gullible in every scene, and even as a layman, one would guess that people (Men or Women) from the army are ones who’re always the smartest in the room. Even if some cinematic liberties have been taken in the making of her character, you cannot recreate ‘confidence’ which an army officer has. The way Janhvi Kapoor runs towards her helicopter, the way she breathes a sigh of relief after landing in a small patch of land amidst a flowing river, the way her hands start shaking after a defeat in arm wrestling – all these nuances show that the confidence with which the army girl’s character was written was somewhere diluted and turned into how a normal girl would react to such a fighting situation. I wish the confidence with which Janhvi Kapoor gives a ‘go-ahead’ for flight take-off or the confidence with which she makes a make-shift dressing room for herself or the way she even storms into a men’s late-night party and screams at her senior – that’s the confidence which was missing in the rest of the scenes.

Angad Bedi, as the brother, looks perfect as an army officer but is hardly even given the adequate screen space that he deserves. He could have been shown slightly more.

Nothing apart from this looks amiss in this film.

Despite the shortcomings of Janhvi Kapoor, this film is surely a MUST WATCH. I may be wrong, but a Taapsee Pannu or a Sanya Malhotra could have made this damn good script come out alive in a much better way. I am going with 3.5 stars.

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