Warning Might contain spoilers.

This is an extremely well-made film with high production values, quite unlike typical Bollywood fare. The performances and casting are very good all-round (save for Vidya Balan, who is completely wasted in the lead role). It’s funny at times, even in the midst of darkness, but tragic and heartwrenching as a whole. It authentically captures the way politicians of all stripes use people’s feelings to control them. There isn’t much of a story—more a sequence of loosely connected events, closer to a dramatized documentary than a film. Most occurrences are just that: occurrences, not leading to anything.

The use of distance to help the CGI animals blend into their environment is clever and practical. There is some beautiful imagery, too, especially in the sequence where Pintu Bhaiyya tries to hunt the tigers at night and the Forest Department surprises him in the act.

Sherni uses film language in strange ways, however. It regularly—perhaps deliberately—misleads one into expecting the tigers to appear and make a meal of whoever is onscreen, or some other similarly shocking event. I thought the villains would get their comeuppance at the end, but the story insists upon realism, robbing us of any satisfaction. I don’t understand why Vidya tears up her resignation in the end and goes to where those cubs were, given that we learn nothing of their fate afterwards and she ends up at a museum far away from all the animals she wanted to care for.