Why Make Films on 60-Year-Olds If You Can’t Cast Them: Soni Razdan

Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu play a 60-year-old sisters in ‘Saand ki Aankh’.

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Soni Razdan has reacted to Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar in the ‘Saand ki Aankh’ trailer.
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“I love both these actors honestly but I mean why? I get there is something called box office draw but then why make a film on 60-year-olds if you can’t cast the real ones?” says Soni Razdan speaking to The Quint about the casting of Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu as sexagenarian sharpshooters Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar in Saand Ki Aankh.

“This makes no sense. I think it’s about authenticity. Would ‘The Kominsky Method’ have worked with 30-year-olds? It’s just silly beyond a point. I don’t know the script and that’s not for me to suppose. I’m just saying that all this talk of Bollywood breaking out of the stereotype is rubbish. If this is what we are back to in the end. One film – ‘Badhaai Ho’ – doesn’t mean a stereotype has been broken,” she adds.

“Of course I do get that Anupam was cast as a 60-year-old in Saaransh when he was young. And that made his career. So it’s not fair to limit a director when making a film as well. Having said that, older actors are so limited in what they get these days so one can’t help feeling this,” she clarifies.

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan actor Seema Pahwa also spoke to The Quint about the choice of casting for Saand Ki Aankh saying she felt perhaps filmmakers prefer casting younger stars since they’re likely to have a bigger box office draw. She said,

“They (filmmakers) don’t want take any chance with aged (sic) actors. They feel safe at the box office with young actors or stars. They don’t want us because we don’t have any market, but I am sure they (Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu) both are talented, so they give justice to the role.”
Seema Pahwa, actor

Neena Gupta has also appealed to Bollywood to consider casting senior actors in roles meant for them. The actor reacted to a tweet by a Twitter user who said that they wished Neena, Shabana Azmi or Jaya Bachchan had been considered for Saand Ki Aankh instead of actors who were half their character’s age in real life.

She agreed with the sentiment, saying, “Yes, I was just thinking about this. Hamari umar ke role toe kamsekam humse kara lo bhai (At least cast us for the role that suit our age).”

Speaking to The Quint, Neena muses, “It's a business – they have to take who is good for the project. Maybe they (older actors) don’t sell.”

Neena Gupta most recently won critical acclaim for her role as a middle-aged woman who accidentally becomes pregnant in 2018’s Badhaai Ho.

Saand Ki Aankh is inspired by sharpshooters Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar, who began learning how to shoot in their 60s and made history by becoming the world’s oldest and second-oldest sharpshooters, respectively. While Taapsee and Bhumi appear to have an engaging chemistry in the trailer, the two are hardly convincing as sexagenarians. The shoddy prosthetics don’t help either.

Casting in Bollywood remains heavily ageist. While male actors get to be action heroes well into their 50s, there are few roles that allow women the same age to shine – when was the last time you saw Salman as someone’s papaji? With a film like Saand Ki Aankh, whose protagonists are a pair of headstrong women willing to take on the patriarchy well into their 60s, casting a pair of 30-something actors instead of someone closer to the characters’ age seems like a missed opportunity.

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