Sherni (2021) Review

Brijesh Kala | Sherni (2021)

The first thing I did after finishing this movie is look up the term “T12”. The results did not disappoint. Here’s what you need to know, according to healthlineThe T12 vertebra is the twelfth thoracic vertebra in the spine of the human body. It is part of the spinal column, which supports the top of the human body.

One chuckles at the blatant subtlety.

Minimalism at its finest…

Sherni is a film that opens with minimal fanfare. After a thousand production houses finish advertising their logos, the names of the key individuals flash up against a black background. Chances are you’ll be busy checking your cellphones, hoping for things to speed up. But you’re not going to get what you wish for. Not just during the credits, but during the entire movie.

And that’s a good thing.

Sherni is a film that excels at minimalism. It’s attention to detail puts award-winning documentaries to shame. While most laud the social issues it highlights regarding the conservation of wildlife, I consider it at its best when its mimicking the principles of Jaws.

You have your rarely seen but eternally omnipresent threat in the form of a Sherni, the idealistic officer-in-charge of operations in the form of Vidya Vincent (Vidya Balan), the well-meaning but slightly malicious superior officer Bansal (Brijendra Kala), and the army of colorful characters ranging from the feudalistic politicians to the hapless villagers trapped between a rock and a hard place. I’m pretty sure the authenticity of the forest officials is not accidental. Sherni uses its atmosphere and its character’s performances – big or small to its advantage.

The gamble that doesn’t pay off…

Director Amit V. Masurkar has once again hit gold after Newton – India’s entry for the Academy Awards. But where Newton succeeded in both its writing and direction, Sherni’s screenplay is unable to take advantage of its director’s prowess. As the runtime proceeds and Sherni begins to broaden the scope of its ambition, the message becomes clear – it is no longer interested in staying tight and self-contained.

You get montages that steer the movie away from its thriller roots. And in comes social media reactions with obvious hashtags and “News” anchors that “debate” and weigh in their opinions. They add nothing to the story, except to let you know that the remaining portion is going to tread on familiar ground.

Why can’t we have nice things?

Sherni had two options. It could have either been an innovative, self-contained and well-made thriller that could let its message linger after the credits. Instead, it chooses to do the same during the runtime, leaving us with a missed opportunity.

Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.


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