Did Gunjan Saxena's Biopic Claim She Was A Shaurya Chakra Awardee?
BOOM found that the film 'Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl' does not represent the retired Indian Air Force helicopter pilot as a Shaurya Chakra award recipient
Columnist Shobhaa De in an opinion piece in Mumbai Mirror erroneously claimed that the film 'Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl' has shown Flight Lieutenant (retd) Gunjan Saxena, on whom the biopic is based, as a recipient of the Shaurya Chakra. De in the piece titled "Talk Time: What went wrong with Gunjan Saxena" critiques the misrepresentation of the Armed Forces and misleadingly states that the film depicted Saxena as a recipient of the Shaurya Chakra.
BOOM watched the film, currently streaming on Netflix, to ascertain that neither any of the scenes nor the credits represented Saxena as a Shaurya Chakra awardee. Further, in a blog on NDTV, Saxena clarified that she did not receive the Shaurya Chakra award. The Shaurya Chakra is the third-highest peacetime gallantry medal after the Ashoka Chakra and the Kirti Chakra. It may be awarded to military personnel as well as civilians.
An excerpt from the opinion piece by De reads, "And most importantly, it has been pointed out that Saxena did not receive the Shaurya Chakra, as shown in the film. This is a serious error." Below is the screenshot of the same.
Additionally, news outlets including The Indian Express, India Today and ScoopWhoop also erroneously claimed that Saxena received the Shaurya Chakra award after the Kargil War. The articles however does not state that the biopic of Saxena represented her as a Shaurya Chakra awardee.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, which released globally on August 12, has been called out for inaccurate representation of facts regarding the Armed Forces. Read BOOM's Fact-Check on the same here.
Went by what her colleagues said: Shobhaa De
BOOM reached out to Shobhaa De who said that she did not recall watching the end credits of the film to ascertain that Gunjan Saxena was portrayed as a recipient of the Shaurya Chakra award.
She claims that her reference to the award was based on an interview by Wing Commander (retd) Namrata Chandi. De told BOOM via message, "I went by what her colleagues stated. I do not recall if this was shown in the end credits of the film. But it was mentioned in an interview by Namrata Chandi, the other lady pilot and repeatedly stressed by the other Wing Commander in her widely circulated post (Flight Lieutenant retd Sreevidya Rajan)."
However, BOOM could not find any reference of Saxena been shown as a Shaurya Chakra awardee in the film in Rajan's Facebook post.
Further, BOOM found an interview of Wing Commander (retd) Namrita Chandi, to Dainik Bhaskar. The article quotes Chandi as saying, "I am amazed that this film has shown Gunjan Saxena received the Shaurya Chakra. This is entirely wrong. These are facts which even Gunjan have rubbished. Showing these, the film's makers have belittled the achievements and bravery of the real Shaurya Chakra awardees." (Original excerpt in Hindi: नम्रता बताती हैं कि मैं हैरान हूं कि इस फिल्म में दिखाया गया है कि गुंजन सक्सेना को शौर्य चक्र मिला था, जो पूरी तरह से गलत है। ये ऐसे तथ्य हैं, जिसका खुद गुंजन ने भी खंडन नहीं किया। यह तथ्य दिखाकर मेकर्स ने वास्तविक शौर्य चक्र विजेताओं की बहादुरी और निष्ठा को धूमिल किया है।)
BOOM also checked the Ministry of Defence's Gallantry Awards Website and could not find any records of Saxena listed as a Shaurya Chakra awardee. Also, Saxena in a blog authored in NDTV stated that "Neither I nor the filmmakers ever claimed I was a "Shaurya Chakra" awardee." An excerpt from the blog reads, "After Kargil, I received the "Shaurya Veer" award from a civilian organisation in Uttar Pradesh. A certain section of the internet news possibly turned "Veer" into "Chakra". This has been clarified many times during my media interactions for the movie's promotions. Is it fair to blame me for this?"
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