In a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, the wild animals of the jungle nearby eat the crops and starve the poor villagers. Running out of sources with the poverty line meeting its peak, the sarpanch (leader) of the village Gangaram (Pankaj Tripathi) decides to sacrifice himself in the mouth of the tiger that will aid his family and villagers get compensation through a government scheme. Shocking isn’t it?
Sherdil is actually based on some actual incidents that occurred in 2017 when the police officials accused some elders of the village of setting themselves as bait for tigers to claim compensation and help their families survive. The film depicts that the government acquires the land for wildlife preservation that halts entry for the villagers who had access in the past.
This development is new to me and it is quite tragic that poverty can be so cruel to mankind in some parts of the world. Is the government responsible for this? Wildlife preservation is also necessary. But what about the villagers whose life depended on wildlife and cropping the fertile land?
It is good to notice that Bollywood is ready for producing films based on wildlife. Vidya Balan starrer Sherni was released last year and Sherdil this year. Stories like these are what the audience is willing to spend their quality time on. What attracts more about Sherdil is that Pankaj Tripathi in the lead displayed a sensational performance of a highly innocent village sarpanch. Pankaj’s monologue in the court and his encounter with the tiger is his top acting features.
Besides a fabulous Pankaj Tripathi, Sayani Gupta surprised me with an impressive supporting role. Neeraj Kabi as the poacher Jim Ahmad had the most interesting dialogues in the film to listen to. Dialogues as well as cinematography were excellent.
Yes, there were minuses. It is impossible to have a perfect film without any objections. One major problem is the length of the film. With content so limited, this film is easily an 80 to maximum 90-minute drama but is actually two hours long. The film is awfully stretched in Gangaram searching for a tiger and convincing everyone that he has to take his life for good. Plus, needless songs are picturized on the lush scenery of the jungle.
With such an impressive story and casting well supported by other technicalities, Sherdil still lacks a ‘WOW’ factor. There is something about Sherdil that makes me think that this still cannot be counted as one of the best films of the year. Maybe the pace of the film and the last fifteen minutes are the reasons.
Sherdil is a wildlife drama with a very important message. Pankaj Tripathi fans should not miss this film.
RATINGS = 6.5/10