Film Reviews

Review of "The Forest" a movie by Ashvin Kumar

-Susan Sharma

"An out and out wildlife movie" I remarked to my son after we came out of the PVR cinema on Saturday.  "How can you say that? I did not like it" remarked my son.   Two extreme reactions, I thought to myself, typical of the interests and the generations we come from.  "But why did you not like it?" I asked.  " I wish they had shown more of the jungle rather than adding the masala elements of a Hindi commercial cinema".   I could see my son was angry.   He is himself a great forest lover, having trekked in many,  watched wildlife in many more.  What was the need to make the triangle love story the focus?  he went on.   Then I understood.  Here was a movie which brought out raw emotions almost unwittingly.  I also
understood why a young woman in the theatre had burst out laughing aloud at a poignant (and terrifying) moment in the movie, forcing some of the theatre guards to come inside and check.

Ashvin has touched some raw nerves here.   He has touched me who claims to have studied man-animal conflict in some detail.  He has touched the youngster who is a nature lover to be angry or react in a bizzaire fashion as though  these trumped up emotions can wash away reality.

Jaaved Jaafri stood  tall in his acting and by the refreshingly handsome looks.   As the Wildlife Warden of Corbett National Park, who studied and worked in London before he surrendered to nature, his brawn and brain far outwitted the "Axe effect" of the page 3 couple from the city.  The Forest Guard was almost like a tribute to the many who get killed in their line of duty-yet realistically enacted by Shukla.

But I do have some questions for Ashvin.   Was it really necessary to show the wildlife warden breaking all rules of the National Park to please his former lady love and her husband?   Also here is a guide (the warden) who did not think it necessary to point out and identify the most beautiful bird life Corbett had to offer.  The beautiful shot of an osprey  went uncommented.   The highlight was the sighting of the tiger family. 

Do sadhwis really roam about the protected forests on foot?  Staying inside the forest rest house,  should the guest be shown doing her morning pooja with a loud clanging of bells and the blowing of a conch shell?   If  the idea was to remind us of the many religious places which still exist inside the deep forest attracting large crowds walking on foot inside,  I feel this may have been handled differently. 

Unlike the pin point focus of "The Little Terrorist",  "The Forest" seems to have opened up a pandora's box of issues.   But then why not?  With the information overload of the digital age, we can handle them all in a span of one hour and twenty minutes, can'we?  See for yourself.  Go and watch the movie.

Man-leopard conflict raises its ugly head through the cries of Zaidi (Jaafri's son in the movie), whose sense of the forest enables him to realise that the just severed head of a goat lying around the temple is the left-over of a meal by the leopard.   It stares at you through the half eaten body of a baby.   There is a reminder every time the Forest guard appears with his battle scarred  head .  The injury is  visible only when he turns his head to the right, so that the Director is able to use to good effect in the movie.   Bringing this conflict right into the drawing room of a city couple might sound dramatic, but is actually terrifying.   The leopards from Sanjay Gandhi National Park prowling the ground of IIT Mumbai, the sensational case of a boy from an upmarket residential colony being lifted by a leopard -all these news items crowd the mind as one listens to Zaidi talking about the man eating leopard.   Here is a trailor of the movie.

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