Directed by Amit Masurkar, Vidya Balan plays a forest officer trying to resolve man-animal conflicts in Sherni. The film started streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, June 18.
Movie Name: Sherni
Cast: Vidya Balan
Director: Amit Masurkar
Sherni opens to a panoramic view of the forest. You know you have landed in the middle of dense, raw danger. So does Vidya Balan, who plays Divisional Forest Officer Vidya Vincent, in the film. Vidya is here to resolve human-animal conflicts – stuff we read about in the newspapers every day. But her battles go beyond just that. She has to find her own footing as a woman in a man’s world.
Just like the central force of the film – tigers – Vidya also lies low, not from fear, but for aim. She subtly finds her way through the jungle, just as Sherni attempts to journey Hindi cinema to a terrain that has been probed, but not explored.
In Amit Masurkar’s Sherni, we are introduced to India’s wild spaces, which face seemingly unstoppable threats from poaching, deforestation and overgrazing. That’s one side of the story. On the other, there are communities that rely on forest returns for their livelihoods. Meanwhile, cattle and men venturing into the jungle are turning up dead. Yes, a wild cat is on the loose. Caught in the middle of this are forestry officials and our protagonist Vidya Vincent.
Sherni is reminiscent of Avni or T1’s case. The tigress was accused of killing 13 people. After months-long hunt, she was shot dead in 2018 in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, by a civilian hunter-led search accompanied by some forest department officials. Many activists described it as ‘cold-blooded murder’ and the case even reached the Supreme Court of India. The case is still going on with officials trying to find whether Avni was a man-eater or not.
Coming back to Sherni, Vidya soon realises that humans and tigers are both endangered. This fact hits her when lives are lost in the jungle and a politician grabs the opportunity to make big promises about showing the tiger its rightful place – sending it to a zoo or a circus, that is. Even the forest department remains complacent and corrupt. Things are not that different in reel or real lives.