Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Prakash Jha, Vineet Kumar Singh.
My first impression of Saand Ki Aankh was Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar's flakey make-up and awkward stance as grandmommies. In other words, I was skeptical about it especially in the wake of all the confident quotes the girls were mouthing pre-release!
Chandro and Prakashi Tomar are sister-in-laws who are more like sisters. Throughout their life, they have done as their husband's deemed correct. Husbands who are no-gooders, yet simply due to their gender, get respect. Respect that they have not earned at all. Respect that both Chandro (Bhumi Pednekar) and Prakashi (Taapsee Pannu) give them without question. It's not like the ladies are helpless women who know nothing in life. These ladies work endlessly at home and out but always behind their ghunghat (veil) they are not allowed to have opinions, though they alone run the house. They are not allowed to have a say, they are not allowed to have individuality either... But neither Chandro nor Prakashi are weeping at their woes. They are resigned to accept a few things as the way of life.
However, when it comes to their granddaughters they don't want the same uneducated, submissive living. When the grannies chance upon a rifle training session for their girls they encourage them to pick up the rifle and hit the bull's eye. Little did the grannies realize that they would have a penchant for shooting.
What follows is predictable but heartwarming. The grannies together beat not only their competitors but also years of regressive living.
Anyone who sees Bhumi and Taapsee's chemistry in the film will be bound to be floored by their earnest depiction of Chandro and Prakashi. Though Bhumi gets the cream dialogues, it's Taapsee who gets the diction on the dot.
What works against them is the lack of help from their offscreen support team. Make-up artists Pallavi Shroff and Dharam Kavilash Singh have done a rather substandard job with prosthetics. Taapsee and Bhumi look like shape-shifters changing their look every 5 frames. Yet, it is their gumption to take upon a role so challenging and their diligence in delivering the needful with utmost enthusiasm that makes Saand Ki Aankh a must-watch. The fact that the girls delivered, tells you that Tushar Hiranandani knows his job.
To keep the audience's attention fixed to the niche subject that might not interest everyone, Tushar has liberally added fun dialogues (writer: Jagdeep Sidhu) and some rather endearing situations throughout the film. While it works the film at 2 hours 30 minutes is half an hour too long. The climax leaves you feeling restless and even a little anxious to leave the theater. The redundancy in drilling the essence of equality gets boring after a while. No one can refute the need for equality, but the film is already saying it broadly, so a few times of hammering the subject in would have sufficed.
All in all, Saand Ki Aankh is not flawless but still a very pleasant watch!