The Forest: Movie Review

Genre: Ecological Thriller, Drama

Director: Ashvin Kumar

Cast: Ankur Vikal, Nandana Sen, Javed Jaffrey, Salim Ali Zaidi

Synopsis: It’s the story of a vacationing couple disturbed by the arrival of the wife’s ex-lover, opening wounds that are best left unhealed; yet, unknown to them their troubles have only begun. They are being hunted by a leopard that has turned man-eater due to a failed poaching attempt, and it will stop at nothing to satisfy its hunger.

Review: This is one film that will keep you on the edge of your seat right from the very first scene till the climax. The number of times you’ll find yourself shuddering when you hear the leopard’s footsteps or the tiger snarling are countless. Hats off to Ashvin Kumar for making a fairly watchable thriller, dear Ram Gopal Verma, you have met your match.
 
For a country like India, where variety is the need of the hour and the number of filmmakers who make thrillers are less, this film definitely helps and caters to an audience, who have perhaps eagerly been waiting for a thriller, especially an ecological one. But the flick also tracks a couple’s marriage that is on the rocks.

Pritam (Ankur Vikal) and Radha (Nandana Sen) have been married for twelve years and are childless, in the hope of rekindling their love for each other, the two head to Jim Corbett National Park. There, they bump into Nandana Sen’s former lover, Abhishek, played by Javed Jaffrey. Apart from attempting to depict a couple’s troubled marriage, the film also touches upon the issue of how the cat family have become man eaters due to being poached and people encroaching their natural habitats.

The film seems to have been packaged as an ecological thriller which it is, but a lot of the plot comprises of the love triangle between its leading actors. Shots of dense forests, fog, barren trees, spiders weaving their webs, indicate the uncertainty in the protagonists’ lives. Ankur and Nandana are supposed to be a couple who are struggling to mend their marriage but the tension between the duo is anything but evident! On the contrary, the duo complement each other well onscreen. Whereas, Javed Jaffry who plays the part of Nandana’s former lover looks like her father instead! Not only is there zilch chemistry between the two but their intimate scenes have been shot very distastefully and parts of it even resembled a blue film! To aggravate matters, Pritam finds out Radha cheated on him when he sniffs the blanket on which the two made love (eek!) and Arjun, Abhishek’s child, played by Salim Ali Zaidi, spots them in the act! It’s shocking how far the drama element has been stretched by the very same director who gave us the Oscar nominated short film, ‘Little Terrorist’. Expected a little more creativity.

Thankfully, Javed Jaffry at least looks the part of a forest officer! Nandana plays an assertive yet sensitive woman, who’s childless. The grief this truth of her life causes her is well depicted when she reaches out to Arjun. But the best performance is Ankur Vikal’s who portrays the anguished husband to the t, especially in the scenes when he finds out that Abhishek and Radha made love.

But despite its flaws, there are some scenes that have been interestingly scripted and are very gripping, for instance when Abhishek struggles to persuade Pritam that there’s a leopard in the jeep but the disgruntled Pritam won’t believe him. Unlike other films of this genre, it does not have an item number which would’ve only trivialized the director’s message.

Verdict: If you’re dying to watch a thriller for an adrenaline rush, catch it (but sans any expectations).

Kanika Rajani

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