Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga Movie Review: Pankaj Tripathi’s Sincere Performance is the USP of this Weary Social Drama (The Hamden Journal Exclusive)

Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga Movie Review: Srijit Mukherji’s Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga is a social drama based on real life incidents, though its own premise is fictional. It tells the story of Gangaram (Pankaj Tripathi), the naive and do-gooder sarpanch of a small hamlet called Jhundao situated near a tiger reserve, which is facing problems from wild animals that are destroying the residents’ farms. When Gangaram doesn’t get relief from the government bureaucrats, he decides to take a twisted way to get some money for his villagers. Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga Movie: Review, Cast, Plot, Trailer, Release Date – All You Need To Know About Pankaj Tripathi, Sayani Gupta, Neeraj Kabi’s Film.

That way is to get killed by a tiger from the reserve, and then get his remains planted in the fields, so that the government can pay his family the needed compensation. So on goes Gangaram in search of a tiger to kill himself, and while the feline creature remains elusive, he meets a dreadlocked poacher named Jim (Neeraj Kabi) who pouts philosophy and hunts tigers. Together they set out to find the animal albeit for different purposes.

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There are some movies that have its heart in its right place, enjoy the sincere performances of its lead actors and give out the right message. And still they do only a passable job at being a strong film. Unfortunately, Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga is one such. The premise is interesting, the actors are good and it reminds us once again the stark reality of the continued povertisation of majority of our brethren, pointless religious differences and the dangers of deforestation that affects many villages and wildlife.

However, the treatment is quite average, and often cumbersome, and lacks the punch to make some crucial scenes effective. Like for example, the opening scene of Sherdil shows a government officer trying to explain Gangaram of the various red-tape levels through which his petition for relief would go through. While the scene does the job of explaining the crisis which Gangaram’s village is going through and the naivete of the protagonist, it goes on and on and isn’t as funny as it aims to be. Which is also a problem with the first half of Sherdil.

As Gangaram traverses through the forest, the movie keeps going into flashbacks explaining how he convinced his family and his village of why his ‘suicide mission’ is important. These scenes establishes Gangaram’s sacrificial nature, though it once again exposes the protagonist’s understanding of the sad nature of red-tapism. Of that nothing is easy when it comes to claiming monetary compensation from the government. Wish someone sensible would have asked him, what if the sarkari babus claim that he was not killed by a tiger, but by a panther (no compensation then). Poor Gangaram seriously underestimated how our sarkar works, no matter who is in power.

Thankfully, nothing of that sort happens to him, though he does come close to becoming dinner for a black panther before Jim comes to not only his rescue, but also the film from its slumbering pace. Till then, Sherdil struggles and how, to maintain the pacing as well as my interest level, as it puts Gangaram through the chakravyuh of the forest.

Things liven up with Jim’s entry in the intermission, and the scenes of Pankaj Tripathi and Neeraj Kabi together did engage me enough, though I believe it has more to do with the actors than what they get to do. Kabi’s poacher gets to go all wise on Gangaram with his thoughts on heaven and hell, religious differences and existentialism, which would all have been cool if I could ignore the fact that he is in the forest to kill an innocent tiger (or tigress) who is just minding its own business there. These ‘deep’ conversations, occasionally humorous thanks to Gangaram’s naive responses (though it becomes annoying quickly), feel vacuous because the scenes don’t bring the depth to make them sound as affecting as they need to be. KK’s Song Dhoop Paani Bahne De From Pankaj Tripathi’s Sherdil The Pilibhit Saga Unveiled (Watch Video).

Graph goes further down in the third act when Gangaram faces legal proceedings for some of his actions and the movie allows him to go preachy about the reality of the poor in a ‘trillion dollar’ economy. Pertinent, yes, Impactful, not so much when the dramatic presentation is weaker. But still, the scene is affecting because Pankaj Tripathi is at his best in the sequence. Watch his expressions after delivering his monologue and then waiting for the judge to deliver his verdict. There is anger, dismay and even confusion on his face as to whether he needs to say anything further to help his village’s cause. Absolutely fantastic! In fact, it is his sincere performance that helps the movie’s cause, followed by Neeraj Kabi’s. Sayani Gupta feels too young to be Tripathi’s wife in the movie, but she is natural and effective. Loved her performance in the scene where Gangaram tells her about his medical condition.

Sherdil ends with an epilogue that actually sparks a great idea which, if explored more, could have made it into a better movie. It’s when despite Gangaram’s heroics, his hamlet is further in danger due to corporate exploitation. But by then, the movie is over and it’s time to go out, wondering what could have been.


– Pankaj Tripathi and Neeraj Kabi

– Gangaram and Jim’s Scenes


– The Sluggish Screenplay

Final Thoughts

Sherdil is sincere in its intentions and in its performances, especially Pankaj Tripathi, but the film lags in both pacing and its execution. The film is releasing in theatres on June 24.

(The above story first appeared on The Hamden Journal on Jun 23, 2022 10:53 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website

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