Gunjan Saxena tells court she ‘wasn’t given opportunity to raise objections to film’, there was no arm-wrestling with male officers

The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to pass any interim order to restrain the release of movie Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl in theatres and asked the Centre, which alleged that the film depicts the Indian Air Force in poor light, to sort out issues relating to its content with the producer and director. Gunjan Saxena is produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.

According to the Centre, the film which was streaming on Netflix, depicts the Indian Air Force (IAF) in poor light and dents its image. Their advocate also mentioned the deposition of real life Gunjan Saxena. “Gunjan Saxena clearly states in her affidavit that she was not given an opportunity to raise objections regarding the content of the film. She also clarifies that there were no arm-wrestling bouts between her and the male officers at the Academy,” Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the court.

Saxena, in her affidavit filed before Justice Rajiv Shakdher, clarified that the movie is not a documentary but is only inspired by her life and it is clear from the two disclaimers placed at the beginning of the film which gives a message to motivate young women to join IAF. “The Deponent (Saxena) does not claim that everything that is shown in the movie has happened with her in her real life. However, the deponent believes that the message sought to be conveyed through the movie is to motivate young women to join the Indian Air Force and, on a broader canvas, the aim is to inspire young women to pursue their dreams, not to doubt themselves and to work hard towards their goals,” she said in the affidavit filed through advocate Aditya Dewan.

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She added that while she has no control over the exercise of ‘creative liberties’ during the making of the movie, “it remains as fact that in so far as the deponent is concerned, at an institutional level, the deponent has not faced any discrimination on the basis of her gender. The IAF rather gave the deponent an opportunity to serve the nation, including in the Kargil War.” The retired officer said she has utmost respect for IAF and cannot comment on the Centre of the force’s perception about the movie in question as everybody’s perception is different.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked Jain to sit with counsels for other parties including senior advocate Harish Salve for Dharma Productions, senior advocate Rajiv Nayar for director Karan Yash Johar and senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul for Netflix and try to sort out the issue.

The judge, who refused at this stage the Centre’s plea to restrain release of the movie in theatres, said those who wanted to watch the film have already seen it on over the top (OTT) platform. “Who will go and watch a movie in the theatre at the time of COVID-19 pandemic? Those who wanted to see the movie have already watched it on the OTT platform,” the high court said.

It listed the suit for further hearing on January 18, 2021 after the counsels for all the parties suggested the judge to first watch the movie so that their arguments can be more clear.

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Gunjan Saxena- The Kargil Girl starred Janhvi Kapoor as the lead. Based on the life of former Air Force Flt Lt Gunjan Saxena, it tells the story of a girl who wishes to be a pilot and how her father helps her believe in herself and achieve her dreams.

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(With PTI inputs)

Reference: HT

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