Guwahati: 'Gunjan Saxena', the biopic on the female Iar Air Force (IAF) pilot of the same name, has once again entered controversy after Retired Wing Commander Namrita Chandi, who served in the Force with Gunjan Saxena, has written an open letter criticising the film's portrayal of the IAF.
In her letter, published on Outlook, Namrita Chandi wrote that she herself has served as a helicopter pilot and has never faced the kind of "abuse and maltreatment" as was portrayed in the biopic. In fact, men in uniform are true gentlemen and professionals, she said.
She wrote that she trained together with Gunjan, and saw "each other under the worst of circumstances." She wrote that both her letter and the film, which she described as 'monstrous', have little to do with Gunjan.
Although admitting that "there were teething troubles like no changing rooms or exclusive ladies toilets," she says at no point was she made to feel uncomfortable. In fact, on occasion some of her 'brother officers' would stand guard outside while she changed, Chandi added.
Namrita also accused the filmmakers of 'Gunjan Saxena' of peddling lies." "Srividya Rajan was the first lady pilot who flew to Kargil – not Gunjan. Though, I am certain that Srividya has no complaints about this credit being taken away from her," she wrote.
"I have myself been the first lady officer to fly on the International Border with Pakistan, way back in 1996. I had the confidence of every officer that sat with me in the crew room. I was the first lady pilot to be posted to Leh and fly the Chee"tah helicopter in the Siachen Glacier...", Namrita went on to add, citing her own credentials.
Namrita said that the film acts as a deterrent for women to join the air force, and that her fellow female officers are 'shocked and saddened' at how events have been portrayed in it.
"Lady, let me advice you, please, never again do a film of this kind if you are a proud Indian woman. Stop showcasing Indian professional women and men in such poor light", she wrote, training her guns at actor Janhvi Kapoor, who played Gunjan in the film.
The IAF had complained to the Central Board of Film Certification and Dharma Productions about its 'undue negative portrayal' in the film, which released on Netflix on August 12. At the same time, the real Gunjan Saxena has since put out several statements highlighting the importance of the role that the IAF played in her life, and the opportunities that she was given by it.