Director: Ashvin Kumar
Cast: Jaaved Jafferi,Ankur Vikal,Nandana Dev Sen
A curious mix of fact and fiction,Ashvin Kumars The Forest takes us into the heart of a dense jungle and confronts us with our worst fears. Have you ever been on a tree with a leopard rushing at you?
The purity of the animals purpose is never in doubt. It is the humans who have complicated histories,which unravel slowly as a bickering couple (Dev Sen and Vikal) head to a rest house,whose inhabitants seem to be a forest ranger (Jafferi) who has clearly been involved with the wife in the past. As the trio step gingerly around each other,being careful because of the presence of a young boy,they attract the attention of the striped predator.
The build-up in this beautifully lensed film is convoluted and slack,even as the actors try hard to keep it going. Its always good to see Jafferi not playing the moron that mainstream Bollywood forces him to. Vikal is capable of underplaying. Nandana Dev Sen is not as weak as she can be. But the film salvages itself by the way it wraps,when it gets the animal in all its ferocity in the centre of the frame,obliterating the irritating shaman-like touches (a sinister sadhvi-type hands out a taveez-like thing to Ms Sen,for it to be used for the right purpose: clearly,Indian forests have women like this wandering about),and needless mumbo jumbo.
The end makes us aware that human encroachment is what makes animals turn on us: that the animal whos charging at us is not just consumed by a feeding frenzy. It is protecting itself from us. And leaves us thinking about who the real predators are. Them or us?