Call it a coincidence or a twist of fate, but Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who Pakistan claims is in its custody, was the consultant for a Mani Ratnam movie.
Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman was the consultant for Kaatru Veliyidai, which is the story of a fighter pilot captured in Pakistan.
The film, which released in 2017, stars Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari in the lead roles. It went on to win two National Film Awards at the 65th National Film Awards: Best Music Direction (AR Rahman) and Best Female Playback Singer (Shashaa Tirupati).
Wing Commander Varthaman is the son of retired Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM).
The family resides in Tambaram, a suburb of Chennai where the IAF station is located. Air Marshal Varthaman refused to speak to mediapersons, asking them not to contact him regarding his son’s claimed capture.
Earlier today, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said IAF lost a MiG 21 Bison aircraft in an engagement with Pakistani Air Force who had entered Indian airspace on Wednesday. The government confirmed that a pilot is missing in action.
The statement came after Pakistani media showed a video of a blindfolded man dressed in flying overalls being questioned by Pakistani security officials. Pakistan claimed that the man was an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot.
In the video that is doing the rounds of Pakistani media, the pilot is seen identifying himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan of the IAF. He gives out his service number and refuses to answer further questions. Pakistan also claimed that it has captured a second Indian pilot.
At a media briefing, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it was “ascertaining the facts” behind the claim. The government did not reveal the name of the pilot.