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Director: Amit Masurkar

Starring: Vidya Balan, Mukul Chadda, Vijay Raaz, Neeraj Kabi, Sharat Saxena, Brijendra Kala

Written by: Amit Masurkar, Aastha Tiku & Yashasvi Mishra

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

SHERNI is the story of a forest officer trying to capture a tigress who is wreaking havoc in a village. Vidya (Vidya Balan) is the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in the Bijaspur Forest Division. Her husband Pawan (Mukul Chadda) is away in Mumbai while she resides alone in a residence allotted by the Forest Department. She isn’t so happy with her job because of bad promotions and salary hike received and contemplates quitting her job. But her husband tells her not to because he is in danger of losing his job. While this is happening, Vidya learns about a tiger that was spotted close to the village. A few days later the tiger kills one of the villagers. Upon inspection with the help of camera traps, Vidya  and other forest officers learn that it’s actually a tigress and they refer to her as T12. Since the elections are around the corner, the issue has obviously been politicised. Sitting MLA, G K Singh (Amar Singh Parihar) promises the village residents that he’ll kill the tigress, while at the other hand P K Singh (Satyakam Anand) is an ex MLA who wants to get back to power, who provokes the villagers against the MLA. IN this chaos, another villager is killed. G K Singh then invites Ranjan Rajhans aka Pintu (Sharat Saxena), a self-proclaimed conservationist but who is actually a hunter and wants to kill T12 for his own selfish reasons. Amidst all this Vidya wants to capture the tigress alive and release it in a nearby National Park. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

The premise of SHERNI is very interesting. The filmmaker uses this film to make a case for nature, the environment and all those who inhabit it, mainly the animals. It does so in a satirical way and drops some truths about how things work here in India, especially on the babus (bureaucrats) level. While all this is true, the screenplay does come across as a bit boring and lacks a spark. The film begins on a dull note and sets up well for the second half. But the makers fail to capitalize on that. Although the humor portions are good. The ending is a bit disappointing.

Technically, the film is good. Cinematography by Rakesh Haridas is superb and the forest scenes are captured brilliantly. Editing by Dipika Kalra is half decent, it has scope for improvement. There was no scope for music in the film but there is still a song that acts more like a BG score but it works there. Writing is average and doesn’t reach its full potential. The production design has been done really well. Costume design is good.  VFX could have been better too.

Performance wise the film is great. Vidya Balan is brilliant as ever. She gets into the skin of the character and becomes one with it. She is just so natural. But the poorly written character weighs her down. Sharat Saxena has an important role to play and he is impressive. Vijay Raaz is fantastic in a different kind of role he plays in this one. Neeraj Kabi is dependable. Brijendra Kala plays his part with ease. Mukul Chadda gives a fine performance. Anoop Trivedi raises laughter. The rest of the cast offer good support.

Director Amit Masurkar delivers a fine film which had the potential to be even better if the script had been improved on.

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