In a career spanning over two decades, Vidya Balan has focused on breaking the stereotypes related to the portrayal of women in Hindi cinema, either consciously or unconsciously. Time and again, the actress has proved that films with women at the center are actually the best bets in cinema that result in not just critical acclaim but also a savvy business move. The critical and commercial success of No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, Mission Mangal and Shakuntala Devi are some of the few examples. She is now gearing up for the release of yet another potentially remarkable female-led story, titled Sherni. The film sees Vidya as an upright forest officer, who strives for balance in a world of man-animal conflict while she also seeks her true calling in a hostile environment.
At the virtual press conference of Sherni, when Vidya was asked if she decided to be part of only women-led inspiring stories, she had an interesting response. “There’s no attempt to doing films that are inspiring. They happen to inspire along the way and that’s really a bonus. I pick up stories that I find compelling and irresistible. And that’s also true for the characters I choose. I think they create great female-centric stories, so why not then? I’m the hero of the piece and I love that because I can tell people that I’m at the center of my universe so I’m getting to be the center of the film also. That’s a double whammy!"
Directed by the Amit Masurkar of Newton fame, Sherni boasts of an ensemble cast including Sharad Saxena, Mukul Chaddha, Vijay Raaz, Ila Arun, Brijendra Kala and Neeraj Kabi.
Talking about how working in Sherni changed her perspective on life, Vidya said, “When you are out in the jungle, you realise that you are such a small part of God’s creation. And, that’s when you begin to see things in perspective. When I go to the jungles I just feel an overpowering sense of gratitude for the life I have. Even when I look at my problems I feel that they are a small part of my life and suddenly I feel like I can overpower anything and fight the odds."
Vidya also termed her mother as “the Sherni" of her life. “My mother has been a home-maker throughout but she is her own person. What I admire about my mother is her thirst to learn. She is in her 60s and she is doing things she has never done before whether it’s learning dance or three different types of music. A lot of times she’s told me, ‘You shouldn’t be apologetic about your success. Don’t bow down in front of anyone.’ So, I think my mother is the most powerful Sherni in my life," Vidya added.
Sherni is set to release on June 18 on Amazon Prime Video.