When Bhusan Kumar decides to produce a film based on man-animal conflict- SHERNI, it indeed is happy times for the mainstream cinema as conservation was one of the aspects that was missing from the repertoire of Hindi cinema.
SHERNI’s charm lies in the fact that a female is the protagonist who is fighting the battle against patriarchy and hegemony, Vidya Balan fighting against an apathetic bureaucratic system, while the tigress to claim her rights, bequeathed to her from the nature of being at the top of the food system.
Development and conservation have come in sharp conflict with each other in developing countries like India, during last decade or so on account of the pressure that has been built on the natural habitat arising out of population pressure and the rights of grazing that tribal settlers are demanding?
One of the dialogues in the movie underlines the paradox that the Forest Management System in the country is facing. It had been developed by the Britishers to be used as a source of revenue generation, and the forest management system still continues to follow on the old management.
SHERNI would be difficult to internalize and associate with, if we, as an audience are not aware and sensitive to the issues pertaining to conservation. The opening scene where Vidya Balan’s character is making enquires about the watering hole not being filled in jungle by the contractor, and the matter being dealt very cursorily by the officers posted there for a long time underlines the apathy that has crept into the system when it comes to addressing the issues of livelihood of wild animals.
Coming on the close heels of the documentaries of Indian forests which were anchored by Sir Richard Attenborough, SHERNI is a movie that should be made part of the curriculum across all schools of the country. Perpetuation of the corruption of the system and the inability of the young crop to fight out without the requisite support from the seniors is also a subtle remark about the manner in which the system is evolving and it needs to change.
Seldom is the role of a forest official managing the system highlighted in the Hindi cinema without melodrama as it has been done in SHERNI. Last time a film which had touched the role of a forest official in such details was in KARTVYA though an ANDHA KANOON had touched upon it as well!
Hope, is what catalyses motivated to fight it out and the hope does beckon when Vidya Balan’s character is able to save the two cubs, that too with the active help of the foot soldiers (forest friends) of the forests as also by an aware Panchayat level official.
WO SUBAH KABHI TO AAGEI