Saand Ki Aankh movie review: Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar’s film hits bull’s eye
Saand Ki Aankh
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Viineet Singh, Prakash Jha
Director: Tushar Hiranandani
Casting controversies can go, take a break. Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar as sexagenarian shooter daadis Prakashi Tomar and Chandro Tomar are not just believable in Saand Ki Aankh, they hit the bull’s eye. Directed by debutant Tushar Hiranandani, Saand Ki Aankh weaves various emotions in one thread and leaves you with an inspiring message without sounding preachy.
Based on the life of India’s oldest sharpshooters, sisters-in-law Chandro (Bhumi) and Prakashi (Taapsee) hailing from Johri village in Uttar Pradesh, Saand Ki Aankh makes us live their journey -- as newlyweds, giving birth to one baby after the other, doing household chores and spending nearly six decades of their life without a purpose. They might hate it all they want but they have learnt to accept the patriarchal ways of the society.
Watch Saand Ki Aankh trailer here:
It is in their sixties that they hold a gun for the first time and discover their innate skill to hit the bull’s eye, courtesy Dr Yashpal (Viineet Singh) -- an aspiring doctor who gives up his ambition to open a shooting academy in the village.
Daadis participate in countless competitions and keep collecting medals while men in the house are unaware of what’s happening under their nose. Not just this, they encourage their granddaughters Shefali (Sara Arjun) and Seema (Pritha Bakshi) to follow their hearts, hone their talent and secure their future. But things aren’t as hunk-dory as it may seem from the outside, and what follow next are multiple face-offs and head-on confrontations with the men.
Tushar shows us the ugly reality of deep-rooted patriarchy, still prevalent in most parts of India. In the very beginning, we’re told that women of the household have to keep their face covered with each wearing a dupatta of different colour, so their husbands know who to go to bed with. While men of the house are shown smoking hukkah while lounging on cots kept in verandah, women are sweating it out in fields, or busy with bricks and cow-dung.
Both Tapsee and Bhumi inhabit the characters and that begins with mastering the dialect and accent. The actors convincingly deliver their lines and back it up with their body language. The camaraderie between Taapsee and Bhumi translates on screen so effortlessly that for a moment you actually think they are the real sisters-in-law. They wear tinted shades, raise a toast with champagne glasses, dance their heart out and struggle to speak English yet enjoy it. Between them, they have trust, respect and love in abundance and you see them standing by each other’s side unconditionally.
Individually, too, they shine without overpowering each other. While Taapsee, with films such as Mulk, Game Over and Pink has proved her acting prowess time and again, Bhumi, who has done deglam roles mostly in commercially viable films, nails it with her on-point act in Saand Ki Aankh. In fact, there are moments when you feel they are totally feeding off each other’s energy — something we don’t see often on the big screen, especially with two female actors. With their performances, the two proved that the hullabaloo around their casting to portray characters double their age held no water.
There needs to be a special mention for filmmaker-actor Prakash Jha who plays the family patriarch Rattan Singh. The ease, passion and confidence with which he plays this negative part deserves full credit. You love him more every time he says, ‘Yo Toh Hona Hi Tha’. Sara and Pritha also bring freshness on screen with their performances while trying to be partners in crime with their daadis. Viineet, however, doesn’t match up to his Mukkabaaz performance and looks under-utilized with his half-baked character leaving him with no scope to improvise.
Without adding needless melodrama, Tushar raises pertinent points such as gender inequality and women empowerment. While the engaging narrative keeps you invested in the script, the poorly done prosthetic plays spoilsport. Tushar brings in a lot of detailing to keep the film authentic but doesn’t seem to have paid half the attention to the makeup. The uneven skin tone, inconsistent wrinkles and flaky makeup often take away from otherwise flawless performances of the lead actors.
Another problem with the film is the time taken to build up the story. The first half definitely needs editing and should have been much crisper. The second half tries to cover a lot of ground quickly and offers several goosebump-worthy moments. However, things become repetitive and the same point is said over and over again. Also, Jagdeep Sidhu’s dialogues are funny and some one-liners make you chuckle, but there’s nothing that makes you stand up and applaud. Only, the clever reference to the iconic film Mother India at a couple of places comes across as smart writing.
Music of the film is definitely a plus and tracks like Udta Teetar, Womaniya and Gold stay with you. All in all, Saand Ki Aankh is an absolute family entertainer that needs to be watched with your grandmother. Celebrate womanhood as you take home a message that is inspiring but will take decades to seep into our society.
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