- Movie Name:Saand Ki Aankh
- Critics Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Release Date: Oct 25, 2019
- Director: Tushar Hiranandani
- Genre: Drama
A little after our nation achieved its Independence from the clutches of the British empire and much before 2019, there existed an India where there was no communication. [And not the one that involves a satellite.] The man and the wife of the house never spoke to each other except for the night and furthered their progeny and families. The women had no say in the household, and they were so conditioned to fit in that mould that they never even tried.
There was no concept of family planning and when the government tried to introduce one (read: vasectomy), the men of the house ran away.
Amid this setting were two fierce women -- Prakashi and Chandro Tomar -- who strived and fought patriarchy. The only catch -- they did so at the age of 60.
'Saand Ki Aankh', Bull's Eye in English, is a tribute to these two extraordinarily wonderful women, and more than that, to womanhood and sisterhood.
The film chronicles their journey from their youth to their sixties, and their battles against severe patriarchy. Their inspiring journey paved the way for the women of their village, and particularly their family, to raise their voice against misogyny of every form and strive to do something to make a living -- other than giving birth to babies, and working in the kitchen and farms.
There's a scene in the course of climax of the movie where Taapsee Pannu's Prakashi deliberately loses a round of shooting because she couldn't stand winning a medal without her confidante and partner-in-crime Chandro. The chemistry and sisterhood in the entire sequence between the two leads is almost palpable.
Much of the credit of this too-good-to-be true chemistry goes to the leads -- Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar.
Taapsee Pannu is well-versed with strong female characters, and has my favourites 'Naam Shabana' and 'Badla' to her credit. What she does here is an extension to what she has already done. Her Parkashi is fierce, bold and the more outspoken of the two. Taapsee gets the Haryanvi dialect right and makes it a point to not lose focus at any given instance in the movie.
Bhumi looks more believable as the Shooter Dadi -- maybe because of the certain nuances she practises with her expression. She, however, does go overboard in few of the scenes -- especially with her dialect. [Overboard is the operative word now.]
So, Bhumi goes overboard with the dialect at points. Wish the same could be said about the make-up and prosthetics used on the two ladies. Taapsee and Bhumi look too young to be 60-year olds.
We are in the day and age of 'Kapoor and Sons' and '102 Not Out' where prosthetics made a world of a difference in Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan's appearances. Why not use them in 'Saand Ki Aankh'?
The brown patches unevenly plastered on Taapsee and Bhumi's faces only stand to infuriate the debate on if actresses like Neena Gupta should have been roped instead -- to play their age.
[There is a scene in which the flaws particularly distracted me. Taapsee's close up showed no wrinkles at all on her forehead. Another close up showed no loosened skin at the back of her palms -- too hard to believe.]
Believability gets a bigger beating with their frequent in-and-outs of their patriarchy-infested household -- appearing too easy to be overcome. For instance, how can the entire village be oblivious to their achievements? Or their daily practice schedule?
The movie has a runtime of over 2 hours 30 minutes -- only going to show the editing could have been crisper, and tighter. There are two instances in the film where one can actually lose focus -- the plot stretches too much (a tad bit repetitively too) to establish the inherent patriarchy in the Jat household. Especially in the first half.
The screenplay in the second half saves the narrative, so does Vineet Kumar Singh. He slips into the character with an unmistakable ease. He is the sheet anchor to the dadis. And as a tribute to the kingmaker, writers should have invested a little more into his character explaining why he did whatever he did.
A special mention for Prakash Jha who plays Ratan Singh Tomar -- the baddie of the house. Jha's Ratan, much like the patriarch of every household, is deeply invested in saving the [so-called] honour of his family name -- and at every cost. Even if it comes down to not allowing the women to even breathe.
Jha infuses his experience of many years in the industry into the character to bring out the patriarchal nerve of the country to the screen -- so much so that you detest [not even hate] him.
Sara Arjun and Pritha Bakshi, as the "daughters", are the perfect foil to Taapsee and Bhumi's brilliance and stand out in every frame.
But there is no mean woman in the entire course of the narrative -- which can actually play to the advantage and disadvantage of the movie, in equal measures. [One particular scene at the palace of Alwar's Maharani deserves a mention here. If women were as supportive as her IRL, India would have been a far better place to survive, and thrive TBH.]
The life and times of shooter dadis organically weave drama into their fold, and, by that measure, director Tushar Hiranandani had a dangerous path to tread. It does appear so too. The narrative oscillates between too preachy and too dramatic, and too mundane. Hiranandani has tried hard to establish the patriarchy that was, and that still is, and has succeeded too. But a little less effort could have sufficed.
Nonetheless, 'Saand Ki Aankh' is a compelling feminist statement -- detailing how the women need to stand up for their own selves, and for others to live the life they envision for themselves. Prakashi and Chandro Tomar did not let patriarchy come in their way of living a life they dreamt of -- even at the age of 60 -- and THAT deserves a dekko despite the little flaws that come with presenting a cine feature with A-listers on the silver screen.
The films needs to be watched but for this -- powerful performances by inarguably two of the best actresses of recent times, Prakash Jha's baddie, an inspiring narrative and for the sheer joy of watching a good female-centric movie (a potion for a feminist mind).
IndiaTVNews.com verdict: 3.5 stars (deducting half a star because of the lousy make-up)
p.s. Few of the scenes might even leave you with tears in your eyes, and a lump in your throat.