My thoughts about the Pankaj Tripathi starrer Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga
Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga Review
Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga is a movie about Sarpanch Gangaram (Pankaj Tripathi) whose village is on the cusp of poverty and indebtedness as a result of crops destroyed by wild animals. Desperate for a solution, Gangaram plans to get killed by a tiger so that his village can benefit from the compensation money.Â
As Gangaram chalks out the nuances of his ridiculous plan, one cannot help but smile at the purity and innocence of his purpose. Tripathi's genius leaves you with no choice but to grow fond of the dim-witted village Sarpanch.Â
Based on true events, Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga does more than send a chill down your spine. It exposes the rampant red-tapism and apathy to the plight of the poor in government offices. In the opening scene, Gangaram laments to a government official about how he has been running from pillar to post trying to get help, but to no avail. The officer's smugness in attributing the suicides to mental illness leaves you fuming.
Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga also ventures into the philosophical realm. For example, when a hungry Gangaram refuses meat because he believes that a vegetarian like him will go to hell, the poacher Jim Ahmed (Neeraj Kabi) replies with an existential answer. He says that humanity is but a tiny blip in the history of the universe. Men may come and men may go, but the laws of the jungle go on forever.Â
Through Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga, Director Srijit Mukherjee comments on contemporary Indian politics. For instance, when Gangaram's story reaches the media, newsrooms across the country engage in heated debates trying to fix the blame for his situation. The joke is not lost on the viewers when the spokesperson of a political party reasons that since it was Nehru who christened the tiger India's national animal, it is he who is at fault. According to the spokesperson, if Nehru had instead chosen the cow, things would not have come to such a pass.Â
Gangaram's heartfelt speech in court towards the end sums up the mess the Indian state has made of forest-related issues. His demand for a 'human reserve' to protect poor people like him is both revealing and depressing. While such reserves are sure to protect their human inhabitants, they also relegate humanity to the status of animals.Â
Given that Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga is shot mostly in the forest, the scope for visual appeal was limited. However, the crisp dialogues and powerful acting make up for the limitation.
Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga is a must watch because the cast (led by Pankaj Tripathi) and the crew (led by Director Srijit Mukherjee) make you laugh and think at the same time.Â