The unbelievable real life story of the Shooter Dadis – Chandro Tomar and Prakasi Tomar is the stuff of legends. It is such an incredible story of triumph over so many kinds of isms – sex, age, class (and counting..), that it naturally fits in to be a very engaging cinematic drama with opportunities to explore so many layers of story telling.
It is a pity then that filmmaker Tushar Hiranandani is least interested in exploring any layers and complexities of such an incredible plot setup in Saand Ki Aankh, and wants to play it to the gallery in a full blown massy commercial setup in the most simplistic and loud manner. He shoots completely out of range, and there are only very few moments sparsely showing up in an unbelievably dragging long film, that genuinely connect and get anywhere close to the bull’s eye that he was aiming for.
A film that wants to be a benchmark of empowerment beyond gender, age and social backdrop unfortunately uses the same set of cliches that it wants to challenge as entertainment fillers in the script. It becomes cringeworthy in a few places when you see almost all the male characters deliberately written as caricaturish one note, all women trying to break out into a completely unnecessary song and dance sequence every now and then, and them also falling into the traps of glorifying the same stereotypes that they want to counter, including a cartoonish elder sister in law, or unnecessary and cheesy under the belt humor. There are a lot of ‘seeti maar‘ dialogues, but only a few land, and they only land when they are wrapped with some sensitivity and compassion, most of which comes from a few good performances in spite of a weak screenplay.
Much has already been said about the poor casting decision of the film; and the poor prosthetics as well as the jumbled edits to frequently mash up the young Tomar bahus with the old dadis further make it difficult to accept that decision. Yes, there is some charming chemistry brewing between Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu for the most part, but it never feels that they have walked into the body and soul of the lovable dadis. The body language is just not there, and I was constantly going back to how seamlessly Aamir Khan had incorporated that in Dangal. Taapsee especially feels more out of place, and somehow even her dialogue delivery feels too hurried and modern. Bhumi does better, her performance is more grounded (including body language and dialect) and she definitely features in some of the best moments of the film. As does Vineet Kumar Singh, who gives the most memorable performance of the film. He also falls victim of the clunky makeup, but thankfully his part is written with more heart, and it feels wonderful that the story doesn’t attempt to drive him to be the male savior change-maker, but rather wants him to be the friendly neighborhood enabler for the dadis. I wish he had a little more screen time to infuse more charm to the proceedings in place of the unnecessary songs. I also wish that the girls who played Shefali and Seema had more opportunity to shine, because in a way it is their story as well, though the film makes no attempt to clarify why only these two became the shining stars for the dadis out of so many women in the household. It almost appeared the dadis were least interested in the enablement of the rest of the gang.
In an incredible country like ours, we will continue getting amazed by how many such unbelievable heroic lives are lived in everyday. We definitely need our cinema to bring them forward more frequently. But we also need that such golden opportunities are not blown away to make mediocre cinema. There is no option for such films but to hit the bull’s eye, but unfortunately in its current shape and form, Saand ki Aankh majorly misses its target.
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