The Mausam lead pair, Shahid Kapur and Sonam Kapoor, were in Air Force Station, Chandigarh, the other day to promote their latest film. Based on the Indian Air Force and shot at various air force stations in the country the movie has Shahid essaying the role of a pilot who flies Mirage-2000 aircraft. As expected there is a romantic angle to the movie but that is something which need not be discussed in Reveille.
Any positive portrayal of our defence services is welcome. Anything which brings forth the dedication and devotion of our men and women in uniform, and which motivates youngsters to join the services is indeed the need of the day. Flying is a glamourous profession, and dangerous to say the least, and it is no surprise, therefore, that movies capitalise on this twin attraction when they choose the role to be played by the main lead of the movie.
There are commercial concerns when a movie of this nature is produced and one cannot expect it to provide a 360 degree view of the life in IAF. But I have often wondered why we never see the television or print media focus on the other branches of the air force who too play a major role in the defence of the country. The branches which ensure that the pilots who fly the sorties are able to do so in full safety and with full back-up.
I intended to do so several times, but have, unfortunately not been able to beat the red tape. In fact, I tried thrice in past two years and have failed on each time. And not because of some bureaucrat sitting in South Block. But because of a obstinate Group Captain sitting in Vayu Bhavan. Anyway that is another story.
What we need to see on the screen is not only the swash buckling presence of a fighter pilot in flying overalls or a G-suit but also the men and women who remain behind the scenes, unseen. Those who maintain the aircraft, keep them flying fit, and ultimately sign the crucial form which allows the aircraft to be taken to air. The men and women in the ATC or the fighter controllers who normally just get a split second or two in the footage in any movie featuring the IAF. They deserve more then that because they do a lot. They are our heroes too. I remember reading a quote, "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost".
The Met branch, the armaments section, the flight safety wallahs, the logistics squadron, the missile squadron the accounts and education branches. There are many more, which I may miss out in mentioning but what I intend to say comes out loud and clear. They are not just filling the blanks. They perform an important task. And their need for recognition must be acknowledged. They are not going to say so in these many words, they are not going to ask for publicity.....they don't need it. But we, in the media or in the film industry, owe it to them.
This can only happen if the media attempts to do such stories. For example, a perfectly good story can be made on how the transport aircraft of the Chandigarh Air Force Station are kept in perfect flying condition by the technical officers and men. These aircraft are a lifeline to our troops in ladakh. How this lifeline is kept well-oiled and functioning can make for a good story.
I am quite sure someday we in the media will think in this direction and that may provoke the film industry to make a film showing the exploits of the IAF like the ones made in the West......Saving Private Ryan, Pacific, Thin Red Line etc. And then, the canvass will be wide enough to portray a complete IAF ......
And though we may get disheartened by the mindless opposition to such projects by stuffy Group Captains sitting in Air HQs, we must not lose hope..... and keep on trying. As I will do.....for the fourth time.