Taapsee Pannu with Chandro Tomar at her house in Johri village. Image Credit: Supplied

Indian sharp shooter champion and women’s rights activist Chandro Tomar, fondly called ‘Shooter Dadi’ and who inspired the Bollywood star-studded biopic 'Saand Ki Aankh', died in India after her battle with COVID-19 on April 30 in Uttar Pradesh.

According to reports, 90-year-old Tomar died in Anand Hospital in Meerut after she faced breathing problems earlier this week. She was tested COVID-19 positive at the hospital. Tomar famously took up shooting after she crossed 60 years of age, inspiring millions of women to pursue their dreams at any point in their lives. She was the symbol of smashing patriarchy and pushing boundaries as a woman who aspired to achieve their dreams. 

Bollywood actors including Bhumi Pednekar -- who played Chandro Tomar's role in Tomar’s biopic --  Taapsee Pannu, and Akshay Kumar took to Twitter to express their grief. Shooter Dadi, who may look like a traditional portly grandmother, has won over 30 National Championships and is known for her killer aim. 

Actress Bhumi Pednekar, who brought her eventful and inspiring life to the big screen, wrote: “You will be missed so much.” Pednekar posted a series of images showing their deep bond and camaraderie.

“Devastated by the news of Chandro Dadi’s demise. Feels like a part of me is gone. She made her own rules and paved the way for many girls to find their dream. Condonlences to the family. Am lucky I got to know and be her,” said Pednekar,

Pannu, who also played Tomar’s other sprightly sister and shooter-in-comrade in the film, also called Chandro Tomar the ‘cutest rockstar’

Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar in Saand Ki Aankh 1-1569405369437
Image Credit: Supplied

“For the inspiration you will always be. You will live on forever in all the girls you gave hope to live. My cutest rockstar. May peace be with you,” tweeted Pannu, along with an image of them together.

Actor Akshay Kumar also took to his Twitter to pay tribute to Tomar. He claimed he has never met her, but has enjoyed their interactions on social media. 

Actor Randeep Hooda expressed his disappointment at not being able to meet her in person. He took to his Twitter claiming that due to COVID-19 a programme where they could have met in person was postponed due to the pandemic.

Tomar is often referred to as one of the oldest sharpshooters in the world. She led by example and was a portrait of strength and resilience for women worlwide when she picked up a rifle at the age of 60. The adage that 'age is just a number' fits Tomar well as she attained fame and success at an unorthodox age. 

Earlier today, a journalist in India made the mistake of tweeting about her death prematurely. Even though Tomar was struggling to breathe, she joked about why everyone was in a hurry to declare her dead. She has often been profiled globally and has attracted attention worldwide for her spirited nature and sharp shooting skills.

Chandro Tomar, 89, practices with her air pistol at a range being built at her house in the village of Johri, India, Feb. 14, 2021. Tomar, believed to be the oldest professional sharpshooter in the world, is a feminist icon in India who has mentored and coached dozens of young women in her village and beyond for more than 20 years. There’s even a Bollywood movie based on her life and that of fellow competitor and sister-in-law Prakashi Tomar.
Chandra Tomar practices with her air pistol in her village in Johri Image Credit: NYT

Folklore has it that the ageing Tomar sisters picked up a rifle by chance, when a younger member of their family expressed her interest in enrolling herself at a newly-built shooting range in their village in Uttar Pradesh. 

Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar