Rating: 4/5
Director Tushar Hiranandani delivers power and emerges as winner in this feat

Nisaana toh ekdum kamaal lagate ho. Ke khaate ho?

Gaali (What do you consume after all to be able to aim so right on point? Abuse…)

For quite a few months now, the film has garnered all types of attention. Ranging from positive to the negative, it has also faced the backlash of people from within the industry. Saand Ki Aankh takes the debate about younger actresses playing the aged avatars notches higher. Of course, it doesn’t clear the air on what is absolutely correct, it does serve you power packed action backed with strong dose of entertainment. Of course since you know it is a real story, you connect with it easily. Had it been fiction, probably it would come across as ambitious. But the overall piece is right on target.

saand ki aankh, hindi, film, review, 2019
Bhumi Pednekar, Director Tushar Hiranandani, Taapsee Pannu during promotions (image source: prokerala.com)

The real life story is based on Prakashi and Chandro Tomar (Tapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar), two women from Haryana who took up professional shooting over the age of 60, serving as an inspiration especially to women and girls around.

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Balwinder Singh Janjua’s writing is layered. Right from the time when the protagonists are normal people to the point when they achieve extraordinary feat, their tale has been nothing but motivating. The momentum too is kept high with the graph of the script constantly progressing upwards.
The film has patriarchy written all across and the suffocation that the ladies feel here has been portrayed with finesse. The opening sequence including the title credits set the film up for you in a very effervescent manner. The narrative here takes the non-linear path and when you actually see the dots connect right before the interval, all you do is smile. The screenplay has a sweet charm despite it throwing some ugly truths of the society.
saand ki aankh, film, hindi, review, 2019
On sets of the film (image source: pinkvilla.com)
Good part- the story just doesn’t talk about shooting as a sport and the women’s preparation for it in general. Male dominated society, ordeals that women particularly in these areas face, how they raise a voice against it, cultural practices, time when men forced their wives to carry babies till eternity- have also found lasting spaces in the screenplay. Also, bonding of the women within the clan has been really captivating especially when frequently, they dispose off newspapers which carry news of women’s achievements. There’s a shot of happy women all across the house and Hiranandani juxtaposes it with those of ridiculing people in the professional shooting range. Good point made here.
There are few moments which go beyond the acceptable level of realism like the one where people are uncontrollably shown laughing at Prakashi and Chandro the first time they appear for a competition. But then there are moments which wrench you, amuse you and also hit your hearts and minds. The sense of liberation Prakashit and Chandro feel the first time they take guns in their hands or their natural amazement seeing the Maharaja of Alwar proud of his wife’s achievement are precious scenes in the film.
A lot of the times when the film doesn’t relate is also because of the plastic visual appeal of the lead actresses. Not that they don’t perform well. But their stiff body language hampers the course of action. They have given their best but hasn’t been able to live up completely. Having said that, they don’t seem misplaced, not even in one scene.
This is not your regular sports or women centric film. It’s much more than that. Also it’s not only about the two leads. Here also, it is beyond that.
Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar- both have contributed equally within the narrative wherein they both have their moments. Noteworthy part is that both have left no stone unturned in their attempt to excel. Since it’s a challenging role, they have taken it heads on and they deserve all the adulation for the effort they have put in. Their chemistry is to die for. The way they knot their pallus when they have an idea is just one of the parts where you marvel both of them together. Absolutely. Together, they make a winning pair, the biggest beauty of the film.
Having said that, it should also be noted that their efforts have tried the best to get the film it’s required feel. They do fall short. Don’t blame Pannu and Pednekar here. Blame it on their make-up team which hasn’t been able to wrap the entire notion up. A lot of the times, you evidently see it lacking.
saand ki aankh, review, hindi, film, 2019
Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu with Prakashi and Chandro Tomar (image source: in.com)
Vineet Kumar Singh is just amazing. A great supporting act. Truest in the literal sense. He makes an indelible impression and you love him for whatever he does with his role. For him, it’s a cakewalk actually. But he is sincere.
Prakash Jha enjoys his time and gives you a reason to cheer for him as an actor. You despise him. And hence he’s very good.
Kuldeep Saran and Pawan Chopra are both amazingly good. They have played Jha’s younger brothers. The three together have created an atmosphere of shrewdness, rightly building up the narrative.
Sara Arjun and Pritha Bakshi too have given the plot able innocence and freshness, required for the overall impact.
Music by Vishal Mishra binds the film reasonably well. There are songs that accentuate the feel of the film. Background score by Advait Nemlekar is one thing that stands out. Pay keen attention and you’ll realise that even averagely written scenes are taken to a new level through marvellous score. It is good and works positively for the flavour of the film.
Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti’s camera tells the story well. There are junctures which get highlighted by intelligent use of camera. For instance, the first time they pick up a gun or when the makers deliberately want to motivate you- the camera is put to good use. Production design by Ravi Srivastava is decent. Very nicely suited for the film. The sets have given a taste of realism, most of the times.
Editing by Devendra Murdeshwar is properly executed. Very good in first half when the action is being set up but dips in charm in the later part of the second one. But overall it is a piece bound tightly and the film even at 146 mins doesn’t bore you.
While there is nothing wrong in young actors essaying characters old in age, when it’s not done in flair, you must have reservations. Here Taapsee and Bhumi don’t give you many reasons to sulk. Their appearance does falter but not them as actors. They are bang on. No sorrows there. The comprehensive attempt is good- also from the point of view of marketing. This is a very important film which tells so much about society, mentalities, ego, patriarchy, determination, what it takes to take a stand, and above all gender notions. A must watch.

Rochak Saxena

Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.

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