A slow burn drama that revolves around a tigress being chased and aims to say much more.
Director – Amit Masurkar
Writers – Aastha Tiku, Amit Masurkar, Yashasvi Mishra
Cast – Vidya Balan, Brijendra Kala, Vijay Raaz, Sharat Saxena, Neeraj Kabi
Vidya Vincent (Vidya), a DFO, has what can be called a tough posting. The area under her is rife with problems.
Humans have encroached into the wild life area and now pushed, the wildlife is encroaching into the lives of human.
This man animal conflict has been worsened by dirty politics, corruption, red tapeism and apathy.
Is there a hope at the end of this tunnel ?
In the marvellously made Newton, Amit Masurkar gave us an insightful view of our electoral process and a hard hitting view of the politics, corruption and greed in that virtual circus.
This time, he brings the focus to the conflict between human and wildlife that has been worsened by ill planned development, apathetic human approach and corruption. and manipulative politicians.
The first half has almost a documentary like quality and feel. With a languid pace and lingering camera some parts almost felt like Nat Geo episode. Whether that’s a compliment or otherwise would depend upon the kind of audience you are. They give us a discerning view of the wilderness, wildlife, local people, their life and livelihood, the problems faced and the functioning of the forest departments.
What added to this effect was the fact that a lot of actors in minor roles looked extremely realistic and it seems the makers used a lot of local talent as they had done in Newton also.
We also get a concise but insightful peep into Vidya’s life, her aspirations, dilemma and frustrations.
But the extremely slow paced first half might be a problem for some and it made the overall duration of 2 hr 10 min seem on the higher side. There were parts that could have been done away with, without effecting the story much.
There is mild humour but it is sparse and I will confess that I did miss Newton’s lighter tone and the humour brought in by the cast and the writing.
Having said that, like a good slow burn, the second half picks up and gives us a thriller like edginess with emotional tug and moments that had our heart beats racing. At times it reminded me of JalliKattu. The only difference is that in this film we thankfully had a bunch of good humans too, that gave us hope.
The smoothness with which the film attacks so many issues (the oxymoron is well intended) like apathetic bureaucracy, politics, patriarchy and corruption is impactful .The way it has been able to evoke empathy and awareness about the issue of conservation is appreciable.
To see samaritans and warriors working relentlessly for the cause was heart warming.
The film shows grim realities, doesn’t placate you with its climax and instead leaves you unsettled and pondering if there’s any hope round the corner. Though I do wish the climax was a little brighter, it seems the makers were in no mood to mollycoddle our sensibilities. The intention was perhaps to awaken us and pay ode to the warriors.
The Real Vidya’s quiet and intense performance brings alive the reel Vidya. You would be able to feel her fustration, pain, disenchantment and her grit.
Vijay Raaz, Sharat Saxena, Brijendra Kala and Neeraj Kabi lend good support.
The film is another gem with its heart in the right place. While its tonality and pace might not cater to mass entertainment, it is a film that needs to be seen.