Based on the inspirational journey of Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, aka Shooter Daadis from Johri, Uttar Pradesh, who are credited to have won more than 30 National shooting championships post the age of 60, ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ starring Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu offers to tell us a cinematic account of the true story. Does it live upto its premise?
We are introduced to the leading women as the younger versions of Chandro and Prakashi, two silent voices of reason whose aspirations and desires are caged by rudimental, patriarchal mindsets in the family, particularly their brother-in-law Ratan Singh (Prakash Jha). They spend their prime being restricted to household chores while the men are perpetually smoking hookah from their pipes or exercising their male privilege to expand their families. The timeline switches to the present where the two ladies are presented with an opportunity to secure government jobs for their daughters if they participate in the shooting range organised by Dr Yashpal (Vineet Kumar Singh), the family medic, who has sought voluntary retirement. As women are not allowed to step out of the house, the senior women decide to accompany their daughters on day one on the pretext of visiting religious sermons. When their trial attempts hit the bull’s eye, Dr. Yashpal is convinced that the two daadis hold potential to become ace shooters. While the daadis are excited about discovering a purpose in life post sixty, family and societal impositions stand in the way. Will they overcome their hurdles or succumb to the pressure?
Directed by newcomer Tushar Hiranandani, ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ is promising on paper as a story but the weak screenplay by Balwinder Singh Janjua leads to a patchy execution. The over-the-top and dramatic treatment tends to elicit more laughs than genuine empathy with its characters. The dialogues by Jagdeep Sidhu are dated and Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing makes the running duration of the film, a slog to sit through. The soundtrack of the film by Vishal Mishra isn’t remarkable and the background music by Advait Memlekar is high-pitched. Technically, the only respite can be sought in the production design by Ravi Srivastava, the costume design by Rohit Chaturvedi and the cinematography by Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti which add authenticity to the situations and locations that the characters are based in.
Eventually, the film rests on the shoulders of its leading ladies and they do not disappoint. Both Bhumi and Taapsee appear relatable, solid and convincing as the two daadis, even though their prosthetics are inconsistent. Vineet is endearing too, though I fear that he might get typecast as the good man who gets bullied by the baddies. Prakash Jha is one-note as the anti-hero and Shaad Randhawa is laughable as an army officer.
‘Saand Ki Aankh’ deserves to be told and seen as a film. It required better treatment and execution at the hands of a seasoned director. This is definitely a draw in the small-towns but multiplex audiences are likely to reconsider their options.