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Saand Ki Aankh review: “The Guest Of Honour” this festive season

Indian villages have always offered raw, bold yet beautiful stories. One such tale is of “revolver dadis”. Johri Village, in Western UP about 80 kilometers north of national capital hosted a set of zamindars. Agrarian economy, the men in that area sat on their khatias the whole day, as women slugged it out farming their land. The movie ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ (Bull’s eye) is about two women who at the age of 60, did something that changed the fortunes of the gender in the village for life.

A still from Saand Ki Aankh

Prakashi and Chandro Tomar, wives in the Tomar family created history by winning medals while in their 60s and Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar play the characters of the revolver dadis in Tushar Hiranandani’s Hindi feature film. Mounted on the outskirts, the first half establishes the story well for the viewers to gauge a sense of the life the Tomar women were living. Their Zamindar husbands knew how to smoke hookah, dominate women and get their wives pregnant. That is all. Not only Tomars but all the women in the vicinity toil hard, farm the lands, earn money and hand it over to their husbands.

Taapsee and Bhumi with the real shooter dadis

Then comes a doctor played by Vineet Kumar Singh who leaves his practice in Delhi and sets up a shooting range in Johri Village. He generates awareness among people that through sports quota one can get government jobs and so the kids must enroll. However, the Sarpanch of the village’s Panchayat makes it clear, “gun is an ornament that only suits the arms of a man” so, no entry for women. Prakashi and Chandro Tomar realises that this shooting range could open up doors to the outer world for their children and generations to come and they take their young girls to the range, only to start training themselves. The shooter Dadis not only trains but they hit the bull’s eye, a perfect 10, a ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ at competitions too.

Bhumi Pedneker

They make different excuses and travel to various parts of the country and win medals. Only and only to inspire the next generation so that they can get government service. Their daughter and granddaughter, Seema and Shefali Tomar, respectively, get inspired and start training under the same doctor in the same range. They excel too and a letter comes from the Sports Authority of India, inviting both the kids for a 45-day-national camp. There starts the second half of the movie. Now the dadis have to tell the head of the family Ratan Singh Tomar played by Prakash Jha. The confrontation is not an easy one and the conflict is the fun of the movie.

Saand Ki Aankh poster, also featuring Prakash Jha

A special mention to the music of the film by Vishal Mishra. Songs like ‘Baby Gold’, ‘Udta Teetar’ and ‘Womaniya’ will not only make you dance but you will be humming it even long after you’ve watched the film.

Taapsee Pannu

Overall, it is an inspiring story based on a real-life story. Silver Medalist at World Shotgun Championship, Seema Tomar who created history is the daughter of Prakashi Tomar, one of the revolver dadis. The movie has shambolic VFX but the innocence portrayed by Bhumi and Tapsee wipes out the glitches. It is not a biopic or an adaptation of a book so the makers used their cinematic freedom to introduce humour and that hits the bull’s eye. The dialogue delivery made a hall packed with critics whistle, clap and at times glossy-eyed. It is not a ‘Dangal’ or ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ or ‘Mary Kom’. There are no national anthem moments during the movie, no close-thrilling contests and that makes the movie a great entertainer yet powerful. The challenge that women faced back then and in interiors even today is the conflict of the movie and the way Taapsee and Bhumi overcome the obstacles makes it the “guest of honour this festive season.”

Ratings: 4 out 5. 

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