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The incident that shocked Pankaj Tripathi

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Sherdil is inspired by a real-life incident that took place at the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in 2017. The makers came to know about it through a newspaper report.

Pankaj Tripathi (left) with Srijit Mukherji at the promotion of Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga in Delhi.

Director Srijit Mukherji is in awe of actor Pankaj Tripathi. Even before directing the actor in Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga, he knew that no one could do justice to his film than Tripathi.

“We were looking for an actor who could represent the face of a common man. Pankaj Tripathi seemed to be the perfect fit as he brings mitti ki khusbhu in every role, irrespective of the genre. Pankaj ji has done a range of films from Gurgaon to Ludo, Sree and Mirzapur, among others. He has shown how brilliant he is in every character. That’s why I chose him for this role,” says Mukherji.

Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga is inspired by a real-life incident that took place at the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in 2017. The makers came to know about the incident through a newspaper report. The incident pertains to villagers (living near the reserve) who had abandoned their elderly relatives as tiger prey and demanded compensation from the government against the killings.

In the film, Pankaj Tripathi plays a sarpanch (Ganga Ram) who volunteers to sacrifice himself as a prey so that families living in his village could get compensation from the government.

When asked if he knew about the incident, Tripathi said, “When Srijit shared the story with me, I was shocked to hear it as I had not read it. I thought how could something like this happen."

Though the film touches upon a serious issue, Mukherji was adamant not to categorise it as a sob story. He instead brought it as a social satire.

“I discussed it with Pankaj ji and he also agreed that through satire, people would be able to understand the subject. Dark humour adds entertainment as well as engages audiences,” he said.

Shot in the jungles of West Bengal, the story highlights the relationship between man and wild through Ganga Ram’s life. Tripathi shared that despite shooting in jungles, he had a great time.

“I was not scared as I am attached to nature and wildlife. I love animals and plants and that’s why I agreed to do this movie. This love for the nature and its beauty has intensified after shooting Sherdil,” he shared.

The actor also clarified that during the shoot, the star cast did not work with a real tiger. “That tiger was not real. No animals were harmed in the making of the film,” he concluded.

Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga releases on June 24. It also stars Sayani Gupta and Neeraj Kabi.

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