Pankaj Tripathi, Sayani Gupta, Neeraj Kabi
What’s The Story
The story revolves around Gangaram (played by Pankaj Tripathi), who is the Sarpanch of a remote village named Jhundao. He takes the onus of solving the villager’s grievances which include deaths happening due to starvation and wild animal attacks on the farmlands. He visits a government office to get the solution to the problems but is told that the problems cannot be solved so easily. After a lot of effort, a dejected Gangaram gets to know that if a person is the victim of a tiger attack nearby the tiger reserve then the family is compensated with Rs 10 lakhs. Gangaram hatches a plan and reveals to his family that he has cancer, and he doesn’t want his death to go to waste. He decides to become the bait for the tiger so that the village can claim compensation for his demise and live happily ever after. What follows next as Gangaram enters the jungle to be eaten up by a tiger forms the rest of the story. Will he be able to get the villagers out of their misery? Will the tiger get killed? Will Gangaram become meat for the tiger? Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Pankaj Tripathi Steals The Show
Pankaj Tripathi’s antics are what stand out in the film. His little idiosyncrasies make the performance memorable. The simplistic way in which he performs the character of Gangaram is touching and very relatable. To top it off he has sprinkled ample amounts of his brilliant sense of humour in many scenes which makes even some of the most serious scenes come out non-preachy. His signature style of dialogue delivery is what keeps you hooked till the very end.
Tiyash Sen’s cinematography is brilliant. The way the rural locales have been shown captures the viewer’s imagination and makes you feel like you’re actually standing right beside Tripathi while everything unfolds. Even the night sequences have been shot with such great technicality that as an audience you know it is night but it’s never dimly lit or harsh on the eyes.
Shantanu Moitra’s background score needs to be applauded. Usually in such heartland stories, if the background score isn’t good, you don’t end up feeling the emotions that well. Moitra manages to get every scene’s background score perfectly. The songs as well are good, but the minimal promotions of the movie hamper it. KK’s last song ‘Dhoop Paani Bahne De’ strikes a chord and so does Raul Ram’s ‘Maya Chhaliya Roop Dhare’. Had the songs been promoted well, the album could have been a must-have in everyone’s playlists.
Srijit Mukerji’s Writing And Direction Is The Weak Spot
Besides Pankaj Tripathi, none of the other actors gets enough screen time to showcase their talents. Sayani Gupta has been totally wasted and so is Neeraj Kabi, who tries to make the most of the limited screen space he has. The outlandish dreads on his hair also don’t suit him that well, which kills the tone of his character.
The film falters majorly in its writing and direction. Writer-Director Srijit Mukerji is unable to recreate a real-life incident from the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve which is situated in Uttar Pradesh nearby the Indo-Nepal borders. ‘Sherdil’ is clearly a case of a story being very good on paper, but not getting translated that well on screen. The film entirely relies on Pankaj Tripathi’s performance rather than letting his performance enhance a well-written story. There are quite a few unnecessary scenes which should have been chopped off and more of the tiger’s tale should have been shown, which would have made the storyline more thrilling. Some of the conversations between Neeraj Kabi and Pankaj Tripathi are too moralistic and don’t actually suit the arc of either of their characters.
The editing by Pronoy Dasgupta is also to be blamed here considering he didn’t use the scissors more often. The audience came in to see a man vs tiger tale, and like Gangaram, the audience also ends up asking quite often ‘Sher Kahan Hai?’ The story starts to drag a bit in the first half, and by the time it actually reaches the main plot of the man entering the jungle, as an audience, you’re already too bored.
Srijit Mukerji’s man vs tiger tale is a great opportunity wasted. Being based on a real-life incident, the makers needed to bring in more of the thrill aspect to the tale and not just rely on Pankaj Tripathi’s performance alone. It’s only his performance that makes this movie a One Time Watch. I am going with 2 stars.