Inspired by real events, the star-studded “Bhuj: The Pride of India” will release Aug. 13 on Disney+Hotstar. The ensemble cast of the film, starring Ajay Devgn, includes Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjay Dutt, Ammy Virk, Nora Fatehi and Sharad Kelkar.
After creating some groundbreaking movies inspired by real-life heroes (“The Legend of Bhagat Singh,” “Raid,” “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior”), this Independence Day, Devgn is all set to bring alive one of the most iconic events from our country’s history with the much-awaited war action movie.
The movie is inspired by the journey of the fearless IAF Squadron Vijay Karnik, who was in charge of the Bhuj airport, and how he re-constructed an entire IAF airbase along with the help of 300 women from a local village in Madhapar to protect our country.
Vijay Karnik and the story of Bhuj
On the night of December 8, during the 1971 Indo-Pak War, a squadron of Sabre jets dropped more than 14 Napalm bombs on the Indian Air Force airstrip in Bhuj.
- The impact rendered the airstrip useless and Indian combat aircraft could not take off.
- The IAF entreated the Border Security Force (BSF) to restore the airstrip but time was ticking, and the labourers were few.
- It was at this time that 300 villagers mostly women from Madhapur in Bhuj, decided to step out of their homes.
- Armed with nothing but sheer patriotism, they took up the practically impossible task of repairing the airstrip.
One of these brave women, Valbai Seghani said she felt no less than a soldier.
Seghani recalls how, on December 9, 1971, when they were alerted about the bombings, not once did the women think about their safety or their families before boarding the army vehicle, and travelling to the airstrip to repair it.
“We were 300 women who left our homes to help the Air Force, determined to ensure the pilots fly again from here. If we were to die, it would have been an honourable death,” she said.
The then District Collector encouraged the courageous 300 to join the noble cause. But when the village sarpanch, Jadhavjibhai Hirani, personally asked the women to help the forces, the women willingly signed up.
Vijay Karnik – In charge of the BHUJ Airport
Another person instrumental in encouraging the women to come to the aid of the army was Squadron leader Vijay Karnik.
- Karnik was in charge of the erstwhile Bhuj airport during the war.
- He, along with two senior officers, 50 IAF and 60 Defense Security Corps personnel ensured the airstrip was operational despite the damage the bomb blast had caused.
- Speaking to the Asian Age, Squadron Leader Karnik recalls the incident saying:
- We were fighting a war and if there had been any casualties of any of these women, it would have been a great loss to the war effort.
- But I took the decision and it worked out.
- I had briefed them where they could take shelter if attacked and they followed it bravely.
How the process of Restoring the Airstrip went?
Restoring the bombed airstrip was an arduous task as the lives of these civilians were constantly at risk.
They began their work under the guidance of the officers. A siren alerted them every time the IAF sensed any approaching Pakistani bombers.
In an interview with The Times of India, Viru Lachhani, another brave heart who repaired the airstrip says:
We were instructed to cover the strip with cow dung to camouflage it from the enemy’s planes.
While working, we had to scurry for shelter in bunkers at the sound of the siren.
Taking shelter in bunkers during air strikes, we had to survive on sukhadi and chilli.
Days in the journey
- On the first day they slept hungry as there was nothing to eat.
- On the second day though, thanks to the kindness of a local temple, fruits and sweets were offered to them.
- It helped them work through the third day.
- On day four, at 4 pm, the combat aircraft took off from the airstrip. It was finally functional.
“It was a proud moment for us,” says Jadhavjibhai Hirani.
- Valbai recalls that her son was merely 18 months old when left him under the guardianship of her neighbours to do her bit for the country.
- When the neighbours inquired as to who would take care of her son if something were to happen to her, she had no answer.
“I only knew this was the time my brothers needed me the most. I still remember how the pilots took care of us,” Valbai told
Hiruben Bhudia, who had accompanied Valbai resonates the same sentiments:
“The airstrip needed to be reconstructed on a war footing. However, due to labour shortage, they counted on us. In 72 hours, we ensured the pilots were back to the skies.
We still have the same energy, and if the armed forces need us, we will work for them again.”
When, three years after the war, the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi offered gifts to these women, they humbly turned her down saying:
“What we did was for our country.”
Valbai adds how a cash reward of Rs 50,000 was donated for a community hall at Madhapar at the time. The Central government dedicated a war memorial called Virangana Smarak at Madhapar village of Bhuj to these brave hearts last year.
Now about the film Bhuj!
The trailer of this magnificent movie will launch Jul. 12, and the motion poster of the movie gives a sneak peek into the world of 1970s, which promises powerful action sequences, heart-churning emotions, love and also patriotism towards our country, and a mission that brings many brave people of Bhuj together for victory!
Presented by T-Series and Ajay Devgn Ffilms, “Bhuj: The Pride Of India” is produced by Bhushan Kumar, Kumar Mangat Pathak, Ginny Khanuja, Vajir Singh, and Bunny Sanghavi, co-produced under the banner of Select Media Holdings LLP.
The film is written by Abhishek Dudhaiya, Raman Kumar, Ritesh Shah and Pooja Bhavoria and is directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya.
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