'To the significant people in a woman’s life, she will always be a Sherni,' says Vidya Balan
Even in the dense jungle, a sherni (tigress) knows her way — this line from Amit Masurkar’s movie Sherni starring Vidya Balan in the lead, kind of sums up what women are capable of. Despite numerous challenges and obstacles that they face in their domestic and professional life, women tend to overcome and establish themselves as resolute and unswerving individuals. Capturing such women and their stories is the song Main Sherni, a single that was specially created for the movie Sherni, and was launched online by Amazon Prime Video, ahead of the film’s release on the platform. The music video, apart from Vidya, features four other successful women who have made a difference not only in their lives, but have also influenced many other women. Eshna Kutty, the hula-hoop dancer and social media influencer, Natasha Noel, body positivity influencer and yoga trainer, Mira Erda, F4 racer and driving coach, and Trinetra Haldar, one of the first transgender doctors in Kar nataka are the four faces featured in Main Sherni. The song is sung by Akasa and Raftaar.
Looking within Vidya who plays the role of a forest officer in the movie says the song has kept her motivated. “Every time I listen to the song, I feel like I can take on the world,” she enthuses. Speaking about her on-screen character, the actress explains, “Although the film is called Sherni, the character I play is not strong in an obvious way — the way we see strength portrayed visually in films or media. She is very reserved and reticent, yet she has a strong mind, is strong-willed, has great integrity and will stand up for what she believes in. She is also nurturing and feels protective about the environment. I thought this is something I would like to portray on screen.”
It is these personality traits — of being upright, standing by your values, and believing in what you do — that are common among the women who are part of Main Sherni. Body positivity influencer Natasha, who had a troubled childhood, confesses that she loathed her body until she was 20. “As women, we are told how we are supposed to look, dress and behave in a certain way. I starved and hated myself until I was 20. I remember, I was watching one of Vidya’s interviews and something about it stayed with me. That’s when I decided that I will choose my happiness over everything else. Discovering and accepting who you are is what it means to be a sherni.” Eshna echoes similar thoughts. A popular face on social media, the artiste’s video of hula-hooping in a sari went viral and that put her in the limelight. However, she reveals it wasn’t an easy journey. “I come from a privileged back-ground. My parents have always been supportive and I studied at one of the top colleges in Delhi. But flow arts and hula-hooping were either sexualised or termed stupid. I had low self-worth and would do a lot of work for free. It took a while before I realised that I am worth more,” explains Eshna.
This journey of standing by your beliefs in the face of adversity is something that even Trinetra and Mira have experienced. In a male-dominated sport, Mira made a mark when she won her first-ever international podium in the Ladies category in Round 2 of the FIA Formula 4 SEA Championship. But it wasn’t an easy journey. “When I started racing at the age of nine, I was the only girl. I remember one race when I started at the last position. It was my parents who motivated me to give it my best. I had to win it, and I did. Everyone was shocked that a girl who had started at the last position won the first place. It has been 11 years since then, and there’s been no looking back,” says Mira.
Trinetra says her defining moment was in medical school when she transitioned into who she is now. She also reveals that except for her class teacher from grade 1, nobody believed her when she said she felt like a woman. “I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain who I was. It was only in medical school that I discovered my inner sherni,” says the doctor. Vidya concludes by sharing what she feels about her own experiences. “I feel my journey is so public because I am an actor, that people are able to see and appreciate the sherni in me. But I think each one of us women is a sherni. In most cases, it may not be obvious. But to the significant people in a woman’s life, she will always be a sherni,” she signs off.
Main Sherni is streaming on online music platforms