The way the camera romances with the crooks and creeks of Kanha, it leaves the viewers in a state of trance and praise for its distinct qualities and echoes of nature. ‘Sherni’ perfectly captures the mystical essence of this forest and its inhabitants. While it may not have had the happy ending we were waiting for, it resonates with the issues of conservation and broken and insensitive political system.

OVERVIEW

Amit V. Masurkar’s ‘Sherni’ is a film dealing with human-wildlife conflict and wildlife conservation. Balan’s strong role as an IFS (Indian Forest Service) Officer leaves us in awe with her dedication and devotion to the forests and wildlife.

Vidya in an interview said “Also the character I play, Vidya, is a woman of few words but many dimensions”. How true it stood for Vincent who lets her actions speak for itself.

The movie has been shot at the very heart of Madhya Pradesh, Bhoot Palasi in Delawadi forests of Raisen district, the Kanha National Park in Mandla district and parts of forests and other locations in Balaghat district.

As a denizen of the state, I could appreciate the cinematic shots and how the filmmakers approached the culture, creating a blend of realistic drama.

The movie perfectly captures the involvement of ‘what’s in it for me’ politics, where all everyone wants is a personal gain and thereby disregarding the betterment for the greater good.  In a world full of people following ‘what’s in it for me’ politics, Vidya’s character is the only one that cares about the tigress.

Other than politics, there are other people too who pose a number of challenges for the IFS. The agitated tribals, the hunting lover officer, nameless mining workers, daily wage workers and so on.

“If you pass through the jungle 100 times, you may spot a tiger once but the tiger will have seen you 99 times”. This dramatic yet true dialogue reminds us who reigns over the forest and who is a mere visitor. The humans seem to have dominated every other species on this planet but by doing so they are making way for their own destruction and extinction seems to be the best reward for them. Our selfish needs will carve the path for our own despair.

The movie subtly portrays the way a woman officer is either greeted with hostility or condescension while on her job. Vidya Vincent is a lonely officer living at her house with a cat. Her husband simply could not understand the requirements of her job. This gendered frustration gradually builds up when she takes up the task to save the tiger.

Although the movie does not grant her a heroic ending, it does make its viewers appreciate how complex conservation is and how our system has truly failed to accommodate the wildlife and the tribals. As a country which prides itself for its diversity and ethics, the system doesn’t seem to be a friend for its own people and wildlife.

Kanha National Park

The rich forests of Madhya Pradesh sparkled throughout the movie. Even if there was an intense scene going on, I could not help but appreciate the location.

Madhya Pradesh is at the heart of India, with its clouds touching mountains, huge rivers flowing through, rich and vast culture and large stretches of forest covers. It’s picturesque and dense location seemed to fit perfectly with the plot of the movie.

The movie took me back to the time when I spotted a tiger drinking water and laying in the sun in these very dense jungles. Madhya Pradesh has a long heritage with its ancient temples, caves, palaces, tribals and it’s synchronicity with nature.

The Kanha National Park,  the location where the movie is shot, is respected globally for saving the endangered Barasingha from extinction. Be it Royal Bengal Tiger or Bison, this park has it all. It is also a part of Project Tiger. The landscapes and the lush meadows are a sight for nature lovers. This same park has been an inspiration for Rudolph Kipling for his book- The Jungle Book. The park is applauded globally for its wildlife.

The way the camera romances with the crooks and creeks of Kanha in the movie, it leaves the viewers in a state of trance and a longing to explore the dense forest themselves.

Gulmarg Firing Range

The movie and Balan’s realistic portrayal of the life of officers left such a drastic impact that even the Army couldn’t help but appreciate her. And they have their own unique way of doing so.

The Indian Army named a firing range in Gulmarg as ‘Vidya Balan Firing Range’. Vidya and her husband, Siddharth Roy Kapoor had visited the firing range earlier this year in the month of February.

There is no doubt Vidya Balan has found a place in the history of cinema and these forests with her excellent theatre skills.