The movie ‘Sherni’ is based on the killing of Pandharkawada tigress Avni a.k.a T1. Actor Vidya Balan was lauded for her performance in the movie. Soon after the release of the film, the movie got entangled in various controversies.
Shooter Asghar Ali Khan filed a legal notice on makers of the movie for twisting facts, stating that the movie will hamper the ongoing investigation. Not just that, even the real-life Sherni IFS officer KM Abharna, played by Vidya Balan, shared a bunch of facts that the film got wrong.
In an interview with the Times Of India, the former deputy conservator of Pandharkawada forest said, “The film talks about the landscape management and problems faced by the department, but it lacks originality. There is too much dilution when it comes to killing T1 (T12 in the movie). Some facts as used as they were. It portrays how T1 started killing humans after I joined. But when I joined in August 2017, the tigress had already mauled 5 villagers. It was after August that proper identification and systematic monitoring started.”
She further added: "There is a lot of fictionalization. But it is also true that it may be perhaps the first film to highlight the ground problems of foresters and the landscape management issues. The director Amit Masurkar has filmed Sherni in Madhya Pradesh showing a different landscape. Had the filming been done in T1 habitat in Pandharkawada, it would have made a different impact as viewers would have come to know how tigers live with cubs in such a fragmented habitat.”
Abharna also denied that neither the director nor the leading star cast spoke to her about her role as a forest DyCF. Doctor Jerryl Banait, one of the petitioners in the Avni PIL, also stated that the movie gave misinformation on the controversial killing.
He said, “Though it is evident how political pressure worked, and how Hyderabad-based private shooter Shafath Ali Khan holds sway over forest officials, the film fails to reveal that his son Asghar Ali Khan shot T1 concocting self-defense theory, that too in the night. It also fails to speak of the NTCA and state committee reports indicting Asghar.”
“Besides, the film doesn’t highlight how veterinary experts were given secondary treatment over the private shooter. The role of three wildlife veterinarians Doctor Prayag HS, Dr Suninil Bawaskar, and Dr Ravi Khobragade, who brought to fore the fact that the tigress had cubs, have also been ignored."
"They also suggested the use of tiger urine and Calvin Klein perfume lure T1,” concluded Doctor Banait. The makers of the movie haven’t responded to allegations of twisting facts yet.