Last night, I watched Sherni with limited network access; the movie paused in between to buffer number of times due to network issues. But the interesting fact is that I am still not able to get over thinking about Vidya, the lead role played by Vidya Balan.
It made me think about various aspects covered by the film. It might look like a very boring, ordinary and not-so-fun movie to some, and that’s the beauty of it. It is a usual story of working women, be it in the government or private sector.
Let’s start from the character Vidya. She is medium built (that’s the term they use in matrimonial bios or dating bios, right?) — not that zero-figure woman with a gym body who wears tight clothes and maybe even rides a bike in action movies.
The first stereotype Vidya breaks is the actor Vidya herself. Not all superwomen are the way they are showed in movies. Balan looks like any ordinary woman in her 30s. She wearing clothes as per the situation and her choice — from saree, salwar kameez to shirt-pant.
Vidya’s husband lives away in the movie and insists her to not quit her job — not because he wants her to take a stand or fight for herself at the workplace, but because he need financial support from her. He is dependent on her. She does not mind it, obviously, but then, isn’t she being forced to do that mundane job with no authority or power even to execute her own duties? Isn’t this pulling her morale down every other day?
When a surprise visit of her husband to her place is accompanied by a visit of her mother in-law and mother, was there even a bit of consideration what she might want and not want? Was she ready for it? Right in middle of a crucial task, she was expected to take leave to take the mothers around. Is it because her job is not important enough? Would the same have been expected from her husband?
And on top of all this, she is supposed to dress up well to showcase the pride possession of their family, whereas, her husband going out in his shorts is no problem at all?
There’s a scene where Vidya chooses to drink whiskey when offered a cold drink. Why is it assumed that women don’t or shouldn’t drink? Is it because women’s and men’s health seems to be affected by alcohol differently? Or because it does not look good based on our societal norms? The expressions on the face of the man serving the drinks suffices to tell us all about it.
Her decision of not having kids is discarded time and again and she is the one being questioned, not her husband. Bringing up kids is assumed to be the sole responsibility of women.
No wonder, the political gains affecting her every action is an absolute reality, as is the reality of mines and disputes over jungles. Who has the right over this land? Animals or sapiens?
When she was present at the very first incidence of a man being killed by Sherni, the politician had commented, “Lady officer ko bheje hai.” Be it a man or woman, she is just performing her duty and has equal, power, responsibility and rights, but no, it’s never considered so, even when she was the one who successfully settled the case for the time being and negotiated while her senior, a man, was running and hiding under tables when questioned.
The movie is full of such action, words and dialogues that express the sexism persisting in society, at the workplace. One need to just identify them and understand them.
And I should mention this, I love this man, Neeraj Kabi, for the way he brings the negativity expected out of his character so fluently that in the end, you start hating him and forget that he is just playing a character on screen. We have a plenty of such man around us — not Neeraj Kabi, but Nangia, the character he played. The Hippocrates.
He was handed over the case not just because he was a man, but also because he was one of them, the powerful corrupts who were lecturing the audience about the co-existence of environment and development. Ultimately, the T12 is dead, killed to be precise. Or should we call, T12 a victim of man’s pride and ego? A victim of the destruction of forest in the name of development? Because she couldn’t have crossed the mines and the national park across the mine.
The narrations of politicians are also phrased very well. They tell you how it works. It’s never about the right, wrong or the middle way, it’s about playing with the emotions of people, using their ignorance to fool them.
It seems this is one of those movies that go beyond entertainment. There is no overdramatic or heroic moments. The film is as plain as our everyday lives, yet, it conveys the right message and gives us a glimpse of reality.
I expected an ending where Vidya takes a stand and comes out as a winner, maybe files cases on the person who shot the T12 without even trying to rescue her or goes to the media to screws the lives of the Hippocrates, but that is not how it ends.
She was successful in rescuing the two cubs of the T12. She does so silently and takes the transfer order. She gets transferred to a museum of animals, i.e. dead animals. She seems to be of no use to the ones alive.
Yes, she writes a resignation letter. And how many times do women write one, change the dates and again end up saving it to Drafts, unsent, moving on?
Is it because they aren’t equipped enough to fight back? Because they have other pressing needs and family responsibilities to fulfil? Because fighting may turn ugly and ruin their career? Yes, that’s what happens in the movie and hence it’s a good movie. They say real life is different from reel; yes, it is, most of the time, but Sherni has been successful showing the real life on reel.