Saand Ki Aankh Review: Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar hit the bullseye
Saand Ki Aankh sends out the message that women can be whatever they chose to be.
The story of two octogenarian sharpshooters who took up the sport at the ripe young age of 60 and went on to become national level shooters might seem straight out of a Bollywood movie. But for debutant filmmaker Tushar Hiranandani's Saand Ki Aankh, starring two of the industry's heavyweight actresses, Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar, not many would know that it is the real life story of Chandro Tomar and her sister-in-law Prakashi who defied all odds to break the shackles of their conservative family to take on the tag of the world's oldest sharpshooters.
Set in the Johri village of Uttar Pradesh, where a woman's identity is inextricably linked to the colour of her chunri, (a delightful insight into a conservative joint family) and she's expected to take care of the house, help out in the field, and yet play second fiddle to her better half, Saand Ki Aankh sends out the message that women can be whatever they choose to be; that age is just a number and if the mind is willing, then the body will follow suit. It's a clichéd message, no doubt, but one, which resonates with audiences every time it is played out. It also helps that through the background score and the humorous dialogues, the makers keep the mood light throughout and the film doesn't descend to melodrama at any point.
Both Taapsee (Prakashi) and Bhumi (Chandro) are perfectly cast in this story set in the heartland of India. Their body language and general demeanour belie their actual age and it is to the credit of both these actresses that they are able to look and act like women double their age. Both take on their 'shooter dadi' roles with great gusto and come out with guns blazing though Bhumi, we have to admit, has a slight edge over her co-star in her portrayal of a village woman. While the costumes are on point, the prosthetics, in parts, are a tad distracting in certain scenes, with Chandro and Prakashi looking a bit too sprightly for their age! But then again to be fair, filmmaker Prakash Jha, who plays the family patriarch, Rattan Singh, with great aplomb, is actually 67 in real life, and could pass off as a younger man!
Saand Ki Aankh is a performance-oriented story where every actor plays his part. The film belongs as much to the Tomar women as it does to the men, though admittedly the latter are all shown as weak, incompetent hookah addicted chauvinists who are only good at ensuring their wives are kept busy with their progenies. Vineet Kumar Singh who plays the doctor-turned-shooting instructor, Dr Yashpal, who mentors Chandro and Prakashi, and their daughter and granddaughter, is probably among the few men who are painted in positive shades.
As promised the movie comes this Diwali season amidst a hail of bullets that's sure to hit the spot with those who love watching real life stories on the big screen. Due to its subject matter, Saand Ki Aankh, has already got the tag of being a women-centric movie, and with good reasons. It is an inspirational and endearing tale of two women who refuse to let age define their potential and as such is worth a watch. More than the younger generation, who might not be able to relate to the conservative relationships showcased in the movie, we believe it will work well for a slightly older audience. At two-and-a-half hours, the movie might seem a bit stretched and the dialect (Haryanvi) could be a hindrance for some, but in the end, Saand Ki Aankh is a story that deserves to be told. The last shot that showcases the actual Tomar sisters dancing away to the beat of the dhol is pure gold.