Vidya Balan is already garnering early awards buzz for Sherni, which released on Amazon Prime Video last week. In the film, which opened to largely positive reviews, Vidya plays a no-nonsense forest officer, Vidya Vincent, who leads a team of trackers and locals intending to capture an unsettled tigress, while battling sexism both in the professional and personal space. Even though a majority of the audience liked the film, a section pointed out that it had a bewildering climax that didn’t leave a lasting impact.
“This wasn’t the original end and I am not too sure if Amit (director, Amit Masurkar) would want me to speak about the original climax. The pandemic forced him to rewrite," Vidya said. “But it’s not just the Sherni in the jungle that’s an endangered species, it’s even the officers like Vidya Vincent, who have become endangered. She was an idealist, trying to do the right thing in the right way," the actress further explained.
Elaborating on why Amit must have opted for this version of the story, Vidya said, “I have to admit that even I wanted the film to have a more hopeful end, but I completely buy why Amit did this. He wanted to make a point. A lot of those faceless people who are doing their job sincerely remain unappreciated and also get punished at times. This is the reality of the system. The ones who challenge it, are often punished. Though in the larger scheme of things, truth prevails. I am an eternal optimist, so I see hope even in this ending."
In a career spanning over two decades, Vidya has mostly avoided the trap of the beautiful girlfriend/wife role, or the straight-up romantic interest and turned to characters with much more depth and agency. Right from The Dirty Picture to Kahaani and Shakuntala Devi, she has been completely unafraid to take on women who don’t conform to social norms.
Does she see any sort of connectivity between the women that she has played in the above-mentioned films and Sherni? Vidya said, “When anyone sets out to do something that’s not been done before then you are judged and probably isolated for it. When you speak your truth or stand your ground I think people find it very difficult especially when women do that. People find it very difficult to accept because historically and traditionally they have not seen women do these things. I think anything new is always tough to accept so these women have borne the brunt of that. I think what similar between these characters is also the one line in the teaser of Sherni that sums it up for me: ‘Jungle kitna bhi ghana kyu na ho, sherni apna raasta dhoondh hi leti hai.’ So, whether you talk about Silk, Vidya Vincent or Shakuntala, it’s true for all of them."
Vidya said she’s elated to have received so much love and appreciation from the audience and critics alike for her performance and that’s what matters the most. “I never think about awards," she sets the record straight before adding, “I am happy that my director liked my work, and secondly, the audience is appreciating it. Receiving an award will be an icing on the cake, but I never think of it."