Gunjan Saxena: It did take time for some individuals to change

As IAF raises concerns over its negative portrayal in the biopic, Gunjan Saxena clarifies that there no gender bias per se, but a few individuals took time to adapt to the change

By Our Correspondent

Ex-Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, Indian Air Force

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl [2020] released yesterday and has largely received positive reviews from the critics. However, the India Air Force has raised an alarm over the (perceived) negative portrayal of the prestigious institution in the Dharma Productions film. IAF had shot a letter to Central Bureau of Film Certification [CBFC] chairperson Prasoon Joshi, and also the producers expressing their disappointment over the film. Gunjan Saxena though has come to the defence of the film, but also allayed fears of IAF of facing any gender bias during her time with them.

“As a commercial movie or as a work of fiction, this film has creatively tried to capture my story or my journey. But what cannot be denied is that even in this film the doors did open and opportunities were given,” Saxena told IANS.

The Ex-Flight Lieutenant clarified that there was no gender bias and the IAF has always provided a level playing field for all.

“Equal opportunities were there for me to perform, and I think they are still there for all the women officers who are in this organisation. We don’t need any other or bigger proof than the fact that over the last 20 years the number of women officers in the Indian Air Force has gone up at such a high rate.’ clarified Saxena, who had joined the IAF in 1994.

While there’s no institutionalized bias, but there are couple of Individuals in the film who believe that a woman doesn’t belong in the IAF. Janhvi Kapoor essayed the tole of Saxena in the film.

Asked about how hard it was for her to find a way through despite the gender bias, Saxena said: “I think I was always lucky to have people around me who supported me and who rooted for me. Be it my family or the Indian Air Force at both places, I got support to pursue my dream and it’s a privilege. If you are the first one to be doing something, along with the privilege comes a whole lot of responsibility.”

While she ruled out any gender bias, but Saxena did acknowledge that it took a while for some individuals to adapt to her presence.

“Whenever there is a major change happening in any organisation or any field for that matter, it is never easy. There are teething troubles. During my initial days in the Indian Air Force, I had the support of my fellow officers, my supervisors and commanding officers who helped me during the difficult times or when I was caught in a difficult situation,” said Saxena.

Saxena continued, “”When there is major change happening, some of the individuals are able to accept change more readily as compared to the others, and some individuals take more time to adjust to a major change. So I think that’s how I would like to put it and what is really of consequence and importance here and what really needs to be focused is that even though it did take time for some individuals to change, that change did occur, it did happen and in a very positive and right direction.”

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl [2020] is currently streaming on Netflix.

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