Streaming on Amazon Prime
Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Cast: Vidya Balan, Vijay Raaz, Neeraj Kabi, Ila Arun, Sharat Saxena, Brijendra Kala
Sherni is a realistic and sensitive portrayal of the forest officers who are responsible for guarding India’s forests, flora and fauna. It provides a peek into the workings of the forest department that is constrained by political interference and the constant clash between man and wild animal in the quest for survival.
Vidya Balan plays Vidya Vincent, a Divisional Forest Officer, in the movie. She is posted in a remote forest location in Madhya Pradesh, while her husband stays back in Mumbai where he works. Faced with loneliness and a stalled career with no growth prospects, she often wonders about resigning. Her posting is not easy. She is surrounded by male misogynists. At one point, someone tells her “When trouble comes, they send a lady officer.”
A man-eating tigress creates more trouble for her because fearful villagers create pressure on the forest department to capture the animal. The issue gets further complicated when two rival politicians manipulate the villagers in a bid to win the next elections. One of them gets a professional hunter, Ranjan Rajhans (played by Sharat Saxena) involved. Rajhans calls himself a conservationist but in reality he is just looking to make his next trophy kill.
Sherni provides a fascinating view of how tigers are tracked in the wild. Officers have to trek hundreds of kilometres to locate the animal’s pug marks and droppings. Camera traps are set up in various parts of the jungle to understand the animal’s movements. Sherni is based on the true events surrounding the 2018 killing of tigress, Avni, in the Yavatmal forests of Maharashtra. At that time, as in this movie, it had caused major national controversy.
The movie is a must-watch to increase our appreciation of Mother Nature. Another reason to see the movie – Vidya Balan’s understated and graceful performance as she quietly goes about fulfilling her official duties.