This is going to be a very special Diwali for Taapsee Pannu. Unlike the usual big ticket releases that crowd the Diwali period, this year, the buzz is not around some big Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan starrer. Instead, the conversations surround a small film with two talented actresses in the lead about two grandmothers from Haryana who are two of India’s oldest sharpshooters. Keeping in tune with the new trend, it is another ‘daughter-of-the-soil’ story that is rooted in reality. A far cry indeed from the feel-good, happy, festive and glamorous films that usually hit the screens. Of course, it has competition from the goofy Housefull 4 starring Akshay Kumar and a host of stars, but given the content and the controversy around it, Saand ki Aaankh with Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar has a great chance to make a mark.
Taapsee is certainly waiting with bated breath for the release. “Right now I am anxious, but the ‘butterflies in the stomach’ hits me only in the week of the release,” says the actress who has had an excellent year in the industry with hits like Badla and Game Over.
For Taapsee, who has more often broken the mould with her choice of roles, this is another instance of wanting to shatter stereotypes. Box-office and appreciation is important, she says but what is more exciting is the chance to present something out of the box – be it the subject that offers two young actresses equal roles, the release during Diwali or the fact that it gives an entirely new take on women’s empowerment. “More than box-office records, I see this film shattering stereotypes about everything.”
The media has focused on the controversy that has hit the film when several social media users as well as senior actresses pointed out at the irony of having two young stars play senior citizens. Taapsee had hit back ferociously citing the need for experimentation and wondering why men weren’t asked the same questions when they took on roles that were older than their age, but she is now content with focusing on the positive feedback for her look and the theme.
This film also brings her back with Anurag Kashyap, the producer who she had collaborate with for the wonderful Manmarziyan. Taapsee however is quick to point out that Anurag’s involvement has been minimal as the film is entirely director Tushar Hiranandani’s baby. “He is the one who has lived with it and shaped it. With Anurag, it’s just the confidence he gives when he is around. He is that kind of guy who will provide the reassurance of taking care of a project. Otherwise it is entirely Tushar’s vision.”
For her personally, the gain was also the insight it offered on rural women and the changing status quo. “I found that women in these areas, do all the chores. From the fields to the house, they are the ones who work the hardest while the men are just monitoring it. There is no retirement age for them,” she says.
Hearteningly though, things are changing, especially in the younger generation. “A lot of credit goes to the daadis (grandmoms) depicted in the film. In their village at least, they have truly shown the path for other women. There are so many female shooters today there! The government too has provided many facilities. The men these days share the workload unlike the previous generation to which these women belonged to.”
The role has certainly touched a nerve for the actress who says it’s her most challenging one yet. The physicality itself was the tough part. “It took me three hours to get into the look (of an old woman) and one hour to take it off.” But on the positive side, as she quips, “I know what I will look like when I am old”!