'Sherni' was initially supposed to have a happy ending: Director
The coronavirus pandemic didn't just delay the work on Sherni but also helped the team realize that they wanted to go for a different ending, says director Amit Masurkar. Lauded for its nuanced exploration of man-animal conflict and patriarchy in society, Sherni follows Vidya Vincent (Vidya Balan), a forest officer who is tasked with capturing a man-eating tigress alive and relocating her.
The alternate ending was writer Aastha Tiku's idea: Masurkar
Masurkar, known for the National Award-winning Newton and Sulemani Keeda, said it was writer Aastha Tiku's idea to end the film with a haunting picture of a potential future if humans don't mend their ways. "In a film about conservation, we have to leave the audience with a question - what are we doing to others and to ourselves?" he said.
'Aastha thought the film should end with a wake-up call'
"We had a happy ending in an earlier draft, but when the pandemic happened, Aastha thought that the film had to end with a wake-up call," Masurar said. "She had visited the taxidermy section of the museum in Mumbai once and felt that it was the right location to film the scene," the filmmaker told PTI in an email interview.
'Sherni' tackles issues like patriarchy and sexism
Sherni explores the duality of human nature and the director said no character can be simply labeled as black or white. The systemic rotting of the bureaucracy seems to be an underlying theme in Masurkar's films and in the case of Sherni, he tackles patriarchy and sexism too. It is a coincidence that both Newton and Vidya Vincent are government officers, he said.
'Sherni' has been shot in the jungles of MP
Quite like his previous film, the acclaimed dark comedy Newton, filmed in the forests of Chhattisgarh, Sherni is also shot on location in jungles, this time in the neighboring Madhya Pradesh. Asked if the two movies are connected in any manner, Masurkar said both films are set in the jungle but are on different topics. While Newton dealt with democracy, Sherni deals with conservation.
'Sherni' is available for viewing on Amazon Prime Video
The shooting of Sherni had stopped in March 2020 due to the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown. The cast and crew shot two-thirds of the film after the lockdown was lifted, under strict COVID-19 protocols. Sherni features a stellar cast in Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala, Sharat Saxena, Neeraj Kabi, Ila Arun, and Mukul Chadda. The film was released on Amazon Prime Video on June 18.