Before we start our Sherni review I would like to tell you, being a Vidya Fan I love to watch her On-Screen. Director Amit Masurkar’s latest brainchild, Sherni, is a tale of mockery upon the Indian bureaucracy. It also sheds light upon the absent concern of mankind towards the conservation of nature. It just shows the bureaucracy of the forest department and attempts to alert us human beings about the forest areas.
The title is a metaphor for the fierce, growling forest division officer, meticulously played out by the ever-dependable Vidya Balan. As legend has it, a Sherni is assertive and treads the lone paths of the Jungle alone. So is enacted by Balan, as she strives in a patriarchal world of forest officers who consider her impotent to headline a crisis in the forest.
The story unfolds to reveal the mayhem created by a tigress out on a loose in the forests of Madhya Pradesh. She goes out hunting local cattle and robbing villagers of their peace. Vidya Vincent, newly appointed DFO is headlining this project of decimating the dangers of the man-eating tigress. The environmental awareness in her, however; internally refuses to sacrifice the animal at the altar of man’s greed.
The powerful tigress, sometimes dormant in Vidya Balan finds immense support in some of her colleagues. Her take on the ecosystem being made a puppet in the hands of greedy mankind and overachievers is shared by the characters played out by Neeraj Kabi and Vijay Raaz.
Vidya’s mission of eradicating the havoc of the tigress without killing her is challenged by local politicians who’ve politicized this environmental issue, a hunter whose pride rests on his hunt count and other forest officers who are least bothered about the Sherni. The corruption, lethargy and ignorance breeding in the waters of government jobs is evident in the way the movie unfolds.
Vidya Balan fighting her own righteous battle in the midst of men, wanting to plonk on the buttery mattress of money and power, echoes the journey of the tigress, whose habitat has been robbed off of familiarity, leaving her destitute. Her desire to ensure the safety of the tigress finds its early mention in the way she mulls over her pet cat at dinner.
The internal drama of the jungle, throbbing with creatures of all shapes and sizes is brilliantly captured in Rakesh Haridas’ camera. His effortless cinematography transports you to the world of the jungle where two tigresses pacing with rage, are combed together under the same umbrella where they are challenged by surroundings that are familiar, yet alien. The sounds of the jungle, the whisper of flowing water, and the silence that would put the loudest of echoes to shame are reiterated in the background score and music projection by Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandravarkar.
Sherni Review: 4/5
Sherni’s impressive screen presence owes its credit to its impeccable cast. Vijay Raaz, usually seen following up Vidya’s unexpressed desire to protect the tigress essays out a seamless role. Neeraj Kabi, Ila Arun, and Sharat Saxena who constitute the face of the political challenge faced by the DFO put forth complete justice to the character sketches assigned to them. Brijendra Kala shines through in the comic sequences, deftly written with the perspective of an insider, struggling in the system. Vidya with her stoic demeanor covering up for the storm of fury inside is the mouthpiece of the director’s restrained take on this unusual subject.