Film: Saand Ki Aankh
Director: Tushar Hiranandini
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Vineet Kumar Singh, Prakash Jha
Saand Ki Aankh is a film about all hearts. It is finally the film about mothers and daughters; of unknown and uncelebrated relationships between mothers and daughters and how women stand up for each other. It is a film that may not have value as much as the form and the direction style is concerned, but immense value for the reason it is created.
One has got to feel Saand Ki Aankh to truly appreciate the potential it has. Coming from a debutant director Tushar Hiranandini, the perspective and portrayal of women is done through a sensitivity of a kind that is rare in ‘men’ filmmakers. It is a film that perhaps all women, in varying capacities could relate to.
The dramatics and the screenplay are the strengths while the pace and sometimes, over drumming the same emotional card is not. There are moments of cinematic unity with the narrative of a kind that achieve that is commendable, while others are not so well coordinated.
The pace of the film is sometimes stretched way beyond to overplay an emotional scene. The slowness of life in the heartland of the country is overshadowed by the screen-time and the desire to bring each and every struggle of the lives of the shooter dadis on screen.
Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu are all out there. A few moments of missed lingo here and there, but the overall mark of their performance was to the point. Both have dominating screen presence and give space to each other to perform.
Taapsee’s language and performance feel and look more authenticated, perhaps for the character written for her, while Bhumi is more reserved in terms of the dramatic performance scale and in moments of crisis and outburst, but shines in parts.
Vineet Kumar Singh is an emotional arch of the film, and played his parts well, but sometimes the struggle on his part looked not that heartfelt.
Filmmaker Prakash Jha is seen playing the patriarch of the household, and holds his stance well for most of the film.
Saand Ki Aankh also deals with a lot of ideological biases in a deeply patriarchal setup. Battling 60 years of misogyny and the daily labour of women’s lives, brings about a kind of self-confidence and reliance on oneself, that the characters of these women portray in the film. From outright challenging to subtle ways of negotiating their well-regulated lives by the likes of men who smoke hookahs and talk all day, these women in team watch out for each other. It was a one in a million moment to see women solidarity of this kind, a reality of womankind bonding on-screen not shown that often.
The empty beats/emblems, on which masculinity rests like the ‘moustache’ and ‘pagdi’, are challenged and given a reasonable argument for. Questions like ‘can men be happy over women’s professional progress’ , issues of insecurity are all dealt with a widely innocent angle; thanks to the women who portrayed that on screen. They stand for what they believe will be right. But, most of all, it is about the extent these mothers/dadis would go to get their daughters to do something in life. A dream of a reality that builds on flying in a plane, to seeing a Taj Mahal among other things.
The dialogues and design of the film are well-situated.
Music is an important tool, and is used by Tushar to widen the scope of the effect of that which is produced on screen. For instance; the opening sequence song , “Jhunna Jhunna” well establishes the daily lives of the women on whom the film is based. Vishal Mishra’s soundtrack is varied and suits the tonality of the film to the T.
What in fact stands out is that even in moments and entire lives spent under the scrutiny of a deeply misogynistic society, there are tiny and big moments of rebellion. If there are men of a kind that take pride in idleness and beat drums of masculinity, and take respect in treating women no more like animals, there are also women who will stand up to fight for what they believe in and will go to every extent to make that happen.
Most of all, Saand Ki Aankh is a film based on the lives of two real women, popularly called ‘shooter dadis’. And, without the burden of a disclaimer announcing the truthfulness of the story, they are organically taken to a part of the film as it comes to a close, making it look like the story of a struggle every woman (If one were to generalize) could relate to in varying capacities.
For the director, who has made a debut, it is too soon to judge. Too much involvement and attachment to the material is seen in the way the film is shot. The excitement to capture and show everything, swift and sometimes handy camera movements prove that. But, the childlike desire of curiosity relieves him of the burden of being judgemental. He is observant as his piece of work, but his sympathies and presence are very much felt in Saand Ki Aankh. A designed or natural move, only he has an answer to that.