Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar in Saand Ki Aankh 1-1569405369437
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The trailer of Tushar Hiranandani’s ‘Saandh Ki Aankh’, which features Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar as two real-life 60-plus sisters from Uttar Pradesh who became famous sharpshooters, has triggered a debate about age-appropriate casting.

Challenging the casting of Pannu and Pednekar, who are in their late 20s, veteran actress Neena Gupta tweeted: “Yes, I was just thinking about this. Hamari umar ke role toe kam se kam humse kara lo bhai (at least let actresses of my age play such roles).”

The remark triggered a Twitter debate, with Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli chipping in that Kangana had been offered the film but she suggested Neena Gupta and Ramya Krishna.

No points for guessing this is another Ranaut-induced ploy to belittle Pannu’s career upswing. Nonetheless, the fact remains that actresses beyond a certain age find themselves nearly jobless in India.

In a sharp rejoinder, Pannu responded on social media saying: “I wonder... I just wonder... Do we ever want to embrace the positivity or just keep latching on to negativity and glorifying it to save our lack of risk taking tendencies. Have we really lost the shoulder along with our spine to support people who venture out of their comfort zone to bring about a change?

“Or it’s just reserved for two females who at relatively nascent stage of their career venture out to do something, which we were told, most of the people turned down? I wonder... I just wonder... Did we ask the same question when we all loved what Anupam Kher did in ‘Saaransh’. Did we question when Nargis Dutt played mother to Sunil Dutt? Did we question John Travolta for playing a woman in ‘Hairspray’? Did we question Eddie Murphy for playing a white Jewish man in ‘Coming to America’?

“Did we question when Aamir Khan played a college kid in ‘3 Idiots’? And in the future are we going to question Ayushmann Khurrana for playing a gay man in ‘Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan’? Or these lovely allegations and questions are reserved only for us?

“Well even if it is... we thank you from the bottom of our heart for noticing our little effort to bring to you something new, something different, something you all want to comment on, something you all want to attach yourself to, be it in any way, and something that attracted your attention. After all cinema is also about thought.”

Gupta holds no grudges. Following Pannu’s post, the actress tweeted: “I liked the trailer and I have great respect for both the actors — Bhumi and Taapsee. Chalo, let’s wish the film good luck also to Anurag Kashyap who I am very fond of. Chalo, apna time ayega [my time will come].”

Later, Pannu said of her post: “I really was trying to stay away from saying much, but after a point I thought when my hard work and efforts are being questioned, so I need to stand by my own self.”

A couple of years ago Gupta had tweeted asking directors to give her roles as she was jobless.

Sixty-plus veteran Shabana Azmi, however, feels there is no shortage of opportunities for actresses her age. “You just need to be at the right place at the right time,” she said.