Gunjan Saxena’s biopic is coming out soon on Netflix but first know the REAL story of the REAL Gunjan Saxena.
Born in Lucknow, she grew up in a family with strong background in defense. She had her priorities straight up since bachpan. No, really, at the age of 5, she looked at a cockpit for the first time ever & decided there and then mujhey IAF Pilot bana hai. Keh Diya toh bas keh diya. AT THE AGE OF 5.
Mujhey aajtak nahi pata mujhe karna kya hai. (inner me: that’s why she has a biopic & you don’t loser)
I mean, I also wanted to be an astronaut, but most kids have those grand, unrealistic dreams growing up. But then we become an adult and reality has different plans. Well, it didn’t for Gunjan Saxena. Her dad was actually very supportive of her ambitions in a time when women didn’t drive cars. He’d tell her “plane ladka udaye ya ladki, usey pilot hi kehte hain.” 🙂
Very Dangal vibes, sir. Very Dangal vibes. Appreciation for uncle ji as well.
As planned by kid Gunjan, adult Gunjan went on to join the armed forces after her graduation from DU Hansraj College (obviously a natural choice) and ultimately in 1994, she, along with Srividya Rajan, another exceptionally marvelous woman that needs to be talked about more often, became one of the 25 young women who formed the first batch of women IAF trainee pilots, THE, FIRST. EVER.
Like almost all the sectors before 2000s, the IAF was also male dominated cuz oMg WoMeN CAn’T HANDLE PrEsSuRe. As she says, the IAF didn’t even have separate washrooms for men and women, I mean, isse zyada kya hi under-representation ho sakta hai. With this and the added stereotypes, they had to go extra length to prove their mettle. But Gunjan and Srividya bashed all these apprehensions the “woman-way” and carved a new path for young girls who dreamt of being an IAF pilot. 🙂
Gunjan Saxena finally found her moment of deliverance & bravery in 1999, at the height of Kargil War, when first ever women in combat, Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena along with Flight Lieutenant Srividya Ranjan flew deep into the war-zone in their Cheetah Helicopters. They were responsible for reconnaissance missions and casualty evacuation.
When the Pakistani Army was firing bullets all over the place and launching aircraft missiles, Gunjan Saxena literally flew across border again & again in her chopper dropping essential supplies, lifting troops, spotting Pakistani positions in the war zone. She evacuated more than 900 Indian soldiers. 900 !
A) What is this level of multitasking, B) Nothing but love and respect.
In one of the interview, she talked about having a VERY near death experience when her chopper almost dodged a Pakistani aircraft missile during the take-off. After the Kargil War, Gunjan Saxena, for her unwavering spirit during war, was awarded the Shaurya Vir Award making her the first Indian woman to achieve a gallantry award of this sort. WE STAN.
But despite this and her visible testament of bravery, her tenure as pilot ended because back then, she was a short commissioned officer and women didn’t have the option to serve as permanent officer 🙂
But here’s the thing. Since then, Indian women have been allowed to serve as permanent officers, and today, we have 1600+ women in the IAF, and it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for her.
Here’s to Gunjan, and everyone who dares to chase their dreams against all odds.