Posted by Paramita Baishya
Saand Ki Aankh begins with glimpses of a toxic patriarchal setup and shows its manifestation in everything. It is a story of Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar (Tomar sisters), who later go on to become shooters and also encourage their granddaughters to do the same. The last half of the movie is the most relevant part where these women challenge their useless husbands’ toxic masculinity. The film is a complex depiction of everyday macro and micro politics of women’s lives.
Release Date: 25 October, 2019
Directed By: Tushar Hiranandini
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Prakash Jha, Vineet Kumar Singh
Genre: Biography, Drama
One thing that remains constant and realistic in the entire movie is portrayal of sisterhood and how solidarity of women means the most to fight systemic and useless dog heads of patriarchy. The framework of Saand Ki Aankh is parodic to show the hypocrisy of the society, the then 70s government and the rural scenario of a village in Uttar Pradesh. The men in the household, in the name of guardianship and family honour perpetuate the exploitation of their women by making them work like “livestock” in the fields, do all housework and then go to the brick factory.
The men in the household, in the name of guardianship and family honour perpetuate the exploitation of their women by making them work like “livestock” in the fields, do all housework and then go to the brick factory.
Among all of this, Tomar sisters are constantly seen as sinners and problematic characters by their cruel eldest brother-in-law Ratan Singh Tomar ( played by Prakash Jha). For instance, Prakashi begins stitching clothes for their own children and this happens because of Ratan Singh’s denial of permission to take up stitching as a side business. So her sisters-in law encourage her to take up stitching for their children. She even goes to an extent to make a pant for her granddaughter to wear but Ratan Singh Tomar burns it. Despite all of this, their courage to secretly learn shooting and at the same time their indispensability as the breadwinners is quite evident.
The behaviour of the men is simply a portrayal of a lot of men in India, who believe that masculinity is all about restricting and saving women’s honour by not allowing them to be independent so that these men could exploit their power. In one of the scenes in the film, they show that in a public movie screening in their village, there is an attempt to create awareness of using condom. But one of these Tomar brothers chase the women and children out and only the men of all ages take ‘fun’ out of watching this sexual scene and does not learn a lesson to correct their licentious behaviour.
On one hand, the men in their family oppose these women, and on the other hand, Tomar sisters are instilled self-confidence by their coach Dr. Yashpal who moves back to the village from Delhi to serve the society by teaching shooting to the young men of the village so that they could come out as successful sportspersons who could represent the country and thereby, also fulfilling the main motive that is getting government jobs through sports quota.
The driving force for both the Tomar sisters was to become role models for their granddaughters to learn shooting so that they could get government jobs and make them self-reliant; not subject them in the shackles of an oppressive marriage like these Tomar sisters. Both the sisters go to an extent to endanger themselves by disclosing Ratan Singh about their shooting so that their granddaughters could go to the national camp for international tournaments. They do not let anything come in their granddaughters’ ways from reaching their goals for example Chandro Tomar takes up the gun to scare one of their sons who gets to know their secret.
Both the sisters go to an extent to endanger themselves by disclosing Ratan Singh about their shooting so that their granddaughters could go to the national camp for international tournaments.
When Tomar sisters see how the queen of Alwar is encouraged and appreciated by the king of Alwar, it is a sight of amazement for both the women because their schematic understanding of ‘a husband’ have been of dominating, oppressor, exploiter, hypocrites and licentious. Moreover, both of them do not leave any opportunity untouched to explore like for instance when they somehow manage to escape for attending the queen’s invitation for dinner. Within a traditional ambit both try speaking and interpreting English, and also attempt using a fork.
The strict separation of the household for men and women when the men spend their time on the courtyard and the women inside the homes somewhat becomes an empowering space for these women because this allowed them to secretly share their success of shooting amongst themselves for almost four years. Both the sisters put their granddaughters in forefront and sacrifice to an extent that both intentionally lose in a tournament because Chandro was heartbroken for a loss of one of her granddaughters. Also, for both the sisters their sisterhood always foregrounded everything so much so that when Chandro loses out in this tournament, Prakashi also gets herself disqualified.
This aspect of solidarity among women across generations and within generations is a great site to watch. Saand Ki Aankh tries to engage with some relevant issues even though the screenplay does not engage with some gravity but a good beginning to understand the complexities of rural regressiveness and women’s struggle against patriarchy.
Paramita Baishya is currently pursuing English Honours in University of Delhi.She loves reading, writing and loves to take part in co-curricular activities. She has also interned with a digital news paper & has done a volunteership with Indian Red Cross society. A fun-loving person who loves seeking opportunity to travel and try new cuisines. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and her Blog.
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