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‘Was Shocked To Know Something Like This Had Happened’

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Pankaj Tripathi is gearing up for the release of her upcoming film Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga. Inspired by true events, the Srijit Mukherji directorial has brought forth an insightful story about the adverse effects of urbanisation, man-animal conflict, and poverty leading to a bizarre practice in a village that resides on the edge of a forest. The movie sees Pankaj as Gangaram, a village head, who is also a father of two kids. During a media interaction in Delhi, Pankaj shared that when he first heard about the story, he was shocked to know that something like this had happened.

The Mirzapur actor shared about this shooting experience in the forest. He said, “I have a great liking for forests, animals, plants and trees. The story of the movie is focusing on the fight between men and the jungle, not just in India, but in the whole world. Through the character of Gangaram, we are focusing on the same thing. And I love nature and animals. My love for nature and its beauty increased after doing the film. I wish we could’ve shot in the jungle for more than 20 days.”

Sherdil is inspired by a real-life incident that took place in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, where villagers used to leave their elderly family members for tigers to prey on, and then claim compensation from the administration. However, after the series of attacks on the elderly, villagers made the forest authorities suspicious of the actual happenings.

“I went to Kolkata to attend a Dussera Puja and I met Srijit Mukherji there and he told me that there is a story which I’ve seen in the news and I want to make a film on that. When I first heard about it, I was shocked to know if this had happened, and I wasn’t aware of this.”

“Later on, I was excited and requested him to write it further. We met each other after four to six months, and that is how the story reached me. And I do like forests and nature. In fact, both of us love it. And a month prior to this, I’d called him to ask about his location and he was at the Tapovan National Park in Nagpur and I was at Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh. So, on that day the director and actor both were present at national parks in India,” said Tripathi.

Speaking about the film, he said, “Sherdil is a story of Pilibhit but it is also Mumbai’s story. In Mumbai, there is a forest area in Aarey where we often hear stories of leopards crossing over to urban areas. The man versus wild conflict is an ongoing one, and this is what we are trying to show through this movie in a satirical way. It’s something that happens all over the world.”

On being asked about why the story was chosen to be told in a satirical way, the Ludo actor said, “a satirical story empowers artists to entertain while delivering an important message. Giving a message to society through satire is easy and I believe it is more impactful than a comedy. People initially laugh at what they see but after a while, they analyse what was shown to them.”

“Giving a message to the society through satire is easy and I believe it is more impactful than a comedy. People initially laugh at what they see but after a while, they analyse what was shown to them,” the actor concluded.

Also starring Neeraj Kabi and Sayani Gupta, Sherdil is set to hit the theatres on June 24.

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