“Saand Ki Aankh Empowers Rural Women & Cinema About Rural Women” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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Saand  Ki Aankh
Starring Bhumi Pednekar, Tapsee Pannu,Prakash Jha, Vineet  Kumar Singh
Directed by Tushar Hiranandani

 
There  is plenty of preaching in this wackily entitled film. And yet Saand Ki Aankh hits bull’s eye. All the rhetorics and sermonizing thrown at the pig-headed  annoyingly imbecilic men  in this film—and the moronic men’s brigade is led by ‘Dadaji’ Prakash Jha who smirks at the womenfolk in his sprawling family and  smokes hookah in  the same breath—are richly deserved.

These men, so carictural in their patriarchal pursuits  and  perversities  deserve to be killed with  sermons. And Bhumi-Tapsee playing sisters-in-law kill it. Though Tapsee’s  old-woman act is not  fully supported  by her makeup, both she and Bhumi shine as sisters-in-arms,  hiding a guilty secret  from the  men who remain  blinded by their  entitlement and  arrogance till the end. And when Tapsee taunts them  towards the end  for  lording over  the women although  they (the women)  keep the  kitchen fires burning,  I felt  like  giving both the ladies a joint  gold medal  for shooting  so sharply without physical guns.

When they are not cooking  or  plotting,   Chandro (Bhumi  Pednekar) and Prakashi (Tapsee Pannu) sneak  away from the  environment  of oppression  to …well….to  shoot. Not  films. God  forbid! But guns at  tournaments. Based on the life  of  two real-life champion sharpshooters (whom we  get to meet  at  the end of  the movie) the  film really comes  alive when the two ladies are at tournaments facing smirks  and  jibes. Guided by their incredibly devoted and supporting coach Yashpal (Vineet  Kumar, excellent) Chandro and  Prakashi are all blazing  guns and  belatedly claimed glory.

There is  a moment when a  young upstartish journalist at a tournament   asks the two star-shooters what  they ate to make them so  exuberant  at their age. “Gaali,”  says the straightfaced Tapsee who has  the  less rabblerousing  lines. Indeed  Tapsee like a good co-star, allows  Bhumi to  take center stage during most of their shared moments of  salvaged sisterhood.  In  makeup that makes her resemble  the late actress Lalita Pawar,  Bhumi Pednekar  gets most of her lines and  feelings right.

Eventually, the  temptation to  preach about  the plight of  gifted  rural women who often  end up smothering their true  instincts  and burning them in the kitchen chulha, gets  the better of  the  narrative’s more delicate ambitions.

Nonetheless, the  film is  remarkably  strong in  conveying  the  sense  of emasculated  power that women with  outstanding talent feel in  a patriarchal community. The background score is, for a change, apt. So are the nostalgic  references such as Mehboob’s  Mother India and Akshay Kumar’s Khiladi phase. These references lend  authenticity  to the  goings-on even while reminding us  how  cinema has gone from the  sublime to  the…well, you  know the rest.
 
 

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