Sherni, the new Amit Masurkar film after his debut venture Newton has some striking similarities with the Rajkummar Rao starrer. The similarities are largely on the structural side of the script. The central protagonist and their emotional struggle are almost the same here. While the slight caricature tone of Newton made it more of a satirical film, in Sherni, the satire quotient is on the lesser side. The lack of relatability is definitely a major hurdle in front of Masurkar, and I feel he has done a really good job in making the tale compelling for the viewer.
So the plot revolves around the efforts to find a Tigress (T12) who has been attacking the villagers who depend on the forest for their needs. The newly appointed DFO Vidya Vincent is sincere in her works, and she wants to provide a clear solution that will help both the villagers and the animals. But political interferences start to happen, and the seemingly smooth plan of Vidya gets dragged to another level. What happens in this hunt to find the tigress is what we see in Amit Masurkar’s Sherni.
As I said, the similarity with Newton in terms of the screenplay structure is very evident. Here also, we have an honest government servant trying to do her job with at most sincerity. She wants to help the people and the animals, but the system interferes in a problematic way. While Newton had this theme of democracy which made it extremely impactful, in Sherni, the idea is around our way of looking at the harmony between humans and animals. Masurkar is showing us the whole story from the perspective of Vidya, and thus Sherni manages to shed light on that grey topic of animal attacks.
Aastha Tiku, who has written the film, is trying to include multiple elements into the screenplay. The unique interest of Vidya is one of them. Other than those people who work as “forest friends” and the college professor played by Vijay Raaz, no one else really gets her passion for the job. Then you have this view on how the human acts in the name of development are unsettling nature. The film shows us how we justify our actions in the most selfish way while animals live out there without being greedy. The next layer in the screenplay is the political one, and for this, Masurkar has opted for a Peepli Live kind of satiric treatment. They are not trying to communicate too much through dialogues. Vidya hugging a villager towards the end of the film gives us a clear picture of the ideology of those humans who knew the jungle and its dependents. Rakesh Haridas has created a visual language that gives you an idea about the scale and the texture of these jungles.
Vidya Balan plays a Malayali here named Vidya Vincent, and she is really top-notch. Vidya Vincent is a different character compared to her colleagues, and Vidya Balan makes sure that the depiction of that different attitude never comes across as a facade. The frustration about the flawed system, the empathy towards the wild, and the admiration and disgust towards certain individuals, etc., are portrayed very genuinely. Sharat Saxena as Pintu Bhaiyya delivered a memorable performance (His character is that Pankaj Tripathi equivalent if you compare Sherni with Newton). Vijay Raaz gets to play a serious and sensible character like Prof. Hassan Noorani, and he was really good at it. Bijendra Kala was hilarious as Bansal. And Neeraj Kabi had the grace in his performance to be Vidya’s role model.
Sherni may have this outer look of being a tiger hunt. But the movie’s soul is actually trying to expose the self-centered humankind who seems to avoid the idea of coexistence. In terms of the craft of filmmaking, I feel Amit Masurkar had managed to present the story in a layered way. Rather than making it a tiger hunt thriller, Masurkar has made it an amalgamation of different kinds of treatment, making Sherni a constantly engaging movie.
Rather than making it a tiger hunt thriller, Masurkar has made it an amalgamation of different kinds of treatment, making Sherni a constantly engaging movie.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended