Cast: Vidya Balan, Mukul Chadda, Vijay Raaz, Neeraj Kabi, Ila Arun
Director: Amit Masurkar
Sherni successfully creates a noiseless thrill and excitement among the viewers due to its realistic portrayal of human vs animal battle.
Nature is smart enough than humans. This makes the species closest to it smarter so that it can defend itself from human invasion. Amit Masurkar, the producer, writer, and director of the film Sherni has heightened this thing in the film. Bollywood is making revolutions in terms of story and Sherni is definitely a superb concept having eternal poise.
At the beginning of the film, one of the forest officials delivers a dialogue “If you pass through the jungle 100 times, you may spot a tiger once but the tiger will see you 99 times,” which is no doubt true. Well, the fact is definitely something one must not ignore. Sherni is a story spread amidst the wilds of Madhya Pradesh. It shows the never-ending tug of war between humans and animals.
Before jumping onto anything, it is impossible to ignore the star performance of Vidya Balan just like every time. Vidya Vincent (Vidya Balan) is an understated neophyte Divisional Forest Officer. Her acting in the film is of the no-nonsense type who always stays dedicated to her work. Even though she often tangle up in dangers, but nothing stops her, which is definitely something, which almost every viewer would have asked for.
She overcomes every problem irrespective of all the obstacles. Every time she faces sexist comments, all she does is exude her confidence. During her term, a tigress pounces on a villager in her operation area. She along with her team works hard and develops a strategy to keep everyone safe while ensuring that the animal is transported to a close reserve without any harm. But, problems are everywhere as with the upcoming election, things get worse.
While the corrupt politicians make a pact with the shady forest officials, Vincent’s goal is to send the big cat to the nearby national park. During the initial scenes, Sherni intends to show Masurkar’s incredible performance by injecting comedy just as he did in ‘Newton’ in 2017. Although the opening scene between Vidya and her boss Hassan (Brijendra Kala) is quite funny; however, gradually viewers would understand that the film is the most sombre one out of others.
By the end of this compact film, viewers will understand why the animals pounce on humans and why tribal choose forests inhabited by carnivorous creatures even after knowing about the life-losing risks. Apart from that, it also culminates the complexities of dirty forest politics as well as the threats of being a forest officer in our country. Sherni also brings out the manipulative yet mischief-making politicians and their actions that give rise to violence.
Sherni finds solace and harmony in nature. Also, Christians are on the edge of extinction in Bollywood. Until the 1980s, almost every Hindi film had a regular presence of Christian women. The only difference was most of the time; women did not play the leading role. Back in that time, sexually active Hindu women wearing skimpy clothes were unacceptable whereas Christian women were considered as part of foreign culture.
However, by the 1990s, female Hindu protagonists playing non-virgin characters became acceptable and Christian women were discarded. In Sherni, Vidya Balan not only is playing the role of a Christian but also a Malayali girl married to a Hindu husband. With Aastha Tiku’s great screenplay, Balan’s religious as well as regional identity does not have any role-play here. Thus, this aspect of Sherni’s writing in particular is commendable as it breaks all the stereotypical walls, and the social-political context in which the film released is definitely heart-warming.
The second reason behind the outstanding performance of the film is the conflict between nature vs human intrusion. Bandar Baant, the soulful yet practical track is an unexpected twist that serves to cover news media, hashtag activists in a single hurried brush stroke. Talking about the cast, it is uniformly superb with Vidya Balan like always shining in her star character Vidya Vincent. The best part is even though her character is the marquee in the film; it does not overshadow her mission. Vijay Raaz’s standout supportive performance successfully mirrors sincerity of Vincent.
Sherni definitely comes with a quietness, which is not contemporary or common in Bollywood films but is a part of the ongoing Malayalam ‘New New Wave’. It also echoes the rising concerns as well as the harmful effects of human interference with nature. The title obviously justifies the film as well as the leading character Vidya Vincent while she goes on a mission to save the tigress. Through the film, Vincent’s strength, as well as prowess, lingers throughout the script as well as the film.
Finally, the extraordinary cinematography by Rakesh Haridas as well as the master sound designs by Anish John deserves drum rolls. Even after being a simple and calm story narration style, the film is perfect for creating a sense of thrill and suspense amongst every age group. Masurkar’s miraculous work turned into a gripping work will definitely leave viewers glued to their seats. Thus, in every way Sherni is a huge success and a triumphant work from the director as well as other creators.
By Nabanita Dutta