No discrimination at the institutional level, says Gunjan Saxena; Delhi HC asks Centre, Dharma Productions to sort out differences
Saxena has submitted that she could not comment on the Central Government or IAF's perception about the movie.
No discrimination at the institutional level, says Gunjan Saxena; Delhi HC asks Centre, Dharma Productions to sort out differences
Gunjan saxena

The Delhi High Court today asked the Central Government, Dharma Productions and other stakeholders to "sort out" their differences over the depiction of Indian Air Force in Gunjan Saxena - The Kargil Girl. (Union of India vs Dharma Productions & Ors)

"Please sit with your colleagues.. Exchange your views and sort it out. Please interact and see", a Single Judge Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher said.

Arguments in Centre's suit against Dharma Productions were deferred after it was urged that Justice Shakdher watch the movie first.

It is Centre's case that Dharma Productions has projected Gunjan Saxena, a commercial film, as a historical biopic and distorted the true and correct facts purely for sensationalization.

Stating that the movie was contrary to the ethos, work culture and work ethic of the Indian Air Force, Centre has prayed that the theatrical release and online streaming of the film, in its present form, be restrained.

While the Adiditonal Solicitor General, Sanjay Jain reiterated that the Indian Air Force had been shown in bad light, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who appears for Dharma Production stated that the film was only inspired from the life of Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena and the same was clear from the disclaimer.

Pursuant to the Court's suggestion, Salve also agreed to add another disclaimer clearly stating that the film was not based on the real-life story of Gunjan Saxena.

Disclaimer can't annihilate the visual depiction, ASG Jain remarked as he asserted that the name of the film sent the message that the movie is based on Ft Lt Saxena.

"You distort our image in the name of creative freedom. This disclaimer is an eyewash.", ASG Jain said.

The Court, however, asked the Centre to not be too sensitive.

"Perception varies.. you may or may not agree with that.. don't try and put it in a box. They may be wrong but it's a view", the Court said.

After it was suggested that the Court view the film first, the Court proceeded to adjourn the matter for January 18.

As the Centre pressed for a stay on the theatrical release of the film till then, the Court replied,

"People have seen it. It's on OTT platform. Who is going to go to theatres during COVID?"

Karan Johar and Hiroo Johar were represented by Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar. Senior Advocate NK Kaul appeared for Netflix.

During the course of the hearing, the Court was also informed that the Flight Lt. Gunjan Saxena had also filed her affidavit in the matter.

In her affidavit before Court, Saxena clarified that it is not her claim that everything shown in the movie was from her real-life.

Stating that the movie was a "dramatic representation" of her journey, Saxena has said,

"(I) believe that the message sought to be conveyed through the Movie is to motivate young women to join the Indian Air Force ('IAF') 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 has informed the Court that there was an agreement between her and Dharma Productions wherein the latter had reserved the right to use fictional scenes, actions etc while making the film.

Saxena further says,

Deponent (Saxena) had no control over the exercise of 'creative liberties' during the making of the Movie, it remains a 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 Deponent firmly believes that IAF as an Institution is very progressive and will forever remain grateful for the opportunities given to her by the IAF.

It is also clarified that Saxena did not have a copy of the final script and was also not involved in the approval process of the movie or its making.

With utmost respect, Saxena has further submitted that she could not comment on the Central Government or IAF's perception about the movie in question as everybody's perception is different.

Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan appeared for Ft Lt Gunjan Saxena.

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