The trailer on Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar starrer Saand Ki Ankh is out today. Based on the lives famous ‘Shooter Dadis’ of Haryana, Chandro and Prakashi Tomar (who are 87 and 82 years-old respectively), the film’s trailer hints at a larger commentary on gender bias and empowerment of women. Another actor whose presence is worth mentioning in this film co-produced by Anurag Kashyap is Viineet Kumar, who is known for his roles in films like Mukkabaaz, Daas Dev and Ugly. However, within minutes of its launch, people have raised questions about the casting for the film. Was it the right decision to have two young actors, barely in their thirties, essay the roles of eighty-something Shooter Daadis?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The trailer of Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar starrer Saand Ki Aankh is out.
  • The film is based on the lives of ‘Shooter Daadis’ Chandro and Prakashi Tomar.
  • Many have questioned the casting of young actors for the roles of eighty-something characters.
  • But just what could have deterred the makers from casting older actors for these roles?

When we can have straight actors champion same sex romance, and male actors cross dress as women, why can’t we have two young actors, play older women?

While there is no doubt that Taapsee and Bhumi are stellar performers, this is a relevant question to be raised. We aren’t short of acting powerhouses, well in their sixties or seventies, who would have suited more, physically and aesthetically to the roles. We live in a time where female actors like Surekha Sikri, Ratna Pathak Shah, Seema Pahwa, Supriya Pilgaonkar are finally getting their due recognition. We even have popular actors like Shabana Azmi and Dimple Kapadia, who would have executed the role of octogenarian Tomar sisters-in law with conviction, and without much prosthetics.

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One wonders why starring roles such as these don’t make their way to older women actors. Is it because the producers are wary of not being able to make a profit, by casting relatively older, and thus less popular women artists? Or this is just an experiment, to give these young actors meaty roles to sink their teeth in, and challenge their capabilities by playing characters which not only demand them to get the accent and outfits right but sell it to the audience from under the thick veil of prosthetics?

Does the stigma around diminished appeal and popularity of aging women actors in films, that a big chunk of viewers still tend to carry with them, responsible for said women to be loosing out on roles and films which would put them in the spotlight?

On some level, it does make sense to have younger women in the lead. Isn’t this what acting is all about? Slipping into the skin of roles, crossing barriers of age, religion, region, and sometimes even gender and sexuality? When we can have straight actors champion same sex romance, and male actors cross-dress as women, why can’t we have two young actors, play older women? Yes, this could have been tailor made roles for actors in their sixties or seventies. Yes, we need more substantial and badass roles for older women whose talent remains untapped to their fullest potential in cinema. And yes, prosthetics in films with an average budget are less convincing than a real actor of flesh and blood who falls in the age bracket same as the characters. The challenge here is for the prosthetics team, to sell us the idea of Taapsee and Bhumi, both well-known faces and not newbies, as old women. Will it succeed? We’ll only know that after the release of the film.

Although as audience we have to be honest and ask ourselves, would we have responded to the film in the same way as we are, with two young ladies leading it? Does the stigma around diminished appeal and popularity of aging women actors in films that a big chunk of viewers still tends to carry with them, responsible for said women to be losing out on roles and films which would put them in the spotlight? We cannot expect producers to back older women actors in full-fledged leading roles unless we create a demand for it. When the box-office fate of Saand Ki Ankh, a film devoid of any male A-lister to champion women’s empowerment on their behalf, is still unclear, are we as audience ready to back films which take bold steps that we want them to?

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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