A biopic based on the life of the oldest sharpshooters – Chandro Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar) and her sister-in-law Prakashi Tomar (Tapsee Pannu), makes for a great film, however director Tushar Hiranandani takes it to a level where the celebration of womanhood is done by condescending and victimising it.
The Director does a great job in using the opening shot to illustrate the inbuilt patriarchy in the system. A bad dream that might require a pilgrimage to a Chandigarh temple, this is enough for the women in the Tomar house to leave the village alone, because for the men, their dominance is in jeopardy.
In Johri village, Uttar Pradesh in 1999, three wives of the Tomar men are perpetually veiled. They are identifiable primarily by the colour of their veils. Bimla, the eldest is red and Chandro, the middle one, is blue. So, when the youngest wife Prakashi comes to her new home, she must choose her own colour. This shows us how women aren’t entitled to have their own opinion in the status quo. They’ve also shown how there is only one room, which will be used depending upon the husband’s urges, because their only job is to smoke hookah, play cards and have unprotected sex.
However, the gimmicks don’t work. The 1975 emergency wherein the village males escape from the sterilisation squad, the director makes it cartoonish by making the men run in Chaplin fashion. During the village screening of Mother India which is interrupted by a government inserted condom ad, the men send the women out of the tent. The scene then transforms into a scene from a sex comedy like director’s Masti franchise, which he wrote, wherein an old sleazy man asks for reruns. There are other instances where Pannu and Pednekar tie a knot, every time they trick the men of the household, which provides for gags. All this just pulls off looking really artificial, and does nothing but dilutes the larger narrative of womanhood, or equality.
The first half takes too much time, whilst in a flashback, to show the story of Prakashi and Chandro Tomar to reach to the present, a shooting competition. This does nothing but slows down the narrative because most of the time is shown building the feministic argument rather than actually dwelling into the shooting, which plays more like a packaging in this biopic about the two sharpshooters.
Pannu and Pednekar play mentor figures to their grandchildren, and through that find their love for shooting. In a scene, Dr. Yashpal (Vineet Kumar Singh), asks the duo as to what they consume considering they both hit the bull’s eye in their first attempt (if only it were that easy), they reply by saying, “gaaliyaan”. The background score plays a part in making it sound organic, however it comes off as carefully orchestrated punches.
Tapsee Pannu, 32, Bhumi Pednekar, 30, play “shooter dadis” transformed by iffy prosthetics and make up that gives them silvered hair and wrinkles across their face. They are paired up against age appropriate Prakash Jha, who plays the patriarch wherein upholding his respect is the highest job of the women in the house. It’s ironic how a film that talks about feministic issues, and equality against men, plays the devil’s advocate.
The performances fall flat as well. Vineet’s character plays a low budget Kabir Khan from Chak de India, who barely has any dialogues, and plays their coach and mentor. Tapsee and Bhumi behind all that make up, keep breaking character with spurts of wokeness with dialogues like, “you are Prakashi Tomar’s husband and not the other way round”.
This is what happens when men write a story about womanhood and equality. It is visually crafted by overcompensation, which results in condescending, lazy narratives just to put out the messaging of the larger picture. Just to play a part, or have a stand, their deep-rooted masculinity gives rises to exaggeration in every aspect of the story, just to reach to the climax, which in this case, more than one in the last half an hour.
Overall, Tushar Hiranandani does a rather poor job in showcasing the ill truth of the status quo, and the convenience of patriarchy, through his biographical sports drama, that falls short on every front, thanks to its condescending ways of reaching to the end, among many other blunders.