The Forest – Movie Review
Posted by Vivek on May 11, 2012 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Ashvin Kumar, Judith James
DIRECTOR – Ashvin Kumar
WRITER – Ashvin Kumar
CAST – Javed Jaffrey, Nandana Sen, Ankur Vikal
MUSIC – Matt Robertson
As suspense thrillers go, The Forest is as simple as it can get. There’s a man-eating leopard on the prowl and caught in the situation are Pritam, Radha, Abhishek, Arjun and Bhola Ram. But for them, it really isn’t as simple as it seems. Pritam (Ankur Vikal) and Radha (Nandana Sen), an estranged couple have come to the Kumaon Forest Reserve seeking solace only to find Radha’s ex-lover Abhishek (Javed Jaffrey) is the cop at the reserve where he lives with his young son Arjun. Looming large on the horizon is not only the threat of the leopard but of old love re-igniting. Even as the three battle their human instincts, they find it difficult to combat the predatory ones; both within themselves and of nature.
As a premise this dual threat is simple yet has enough meat to exploit and director Ashvin Kumar (Oscar nominee for Live Action Short Film category, 2004) explores it with an intuitive understanding of human and animal nature. He uses suspense and largeness of the death threat to perfect balance, building the tempo gradually yet constantly notching it up. The film begins with a suggestion of threat with kids at the fore-front, a smart device to juxtapose the vulnerability of humans to the all-powerful nature. This also sets the tone of the dark and dramatic atmosphere of the film. We know it is not going to be an easy watch and it isn’t.
It is this pervading uneasiness that the film captures with instinctive reserve and judgement. Shot in natural day-light and mood lighting at nights, the film sets a resonating ambient supplement to the gradually building tension. On the sly, it also gradually builds the complexities of the relationships. However, half-way through, once the terror strikes, there is no room left (or explored either) to test these tenuous relationships further. It is all about bloody drama that the leopard represents. Bloody it is, and equally dramatic, what with the escape routes cut-off and death at the door. The horror slowly explodes through sound and editing keeps the experience as uneven as it may appear to the characters.
Probably, the most enchanting part of the film is its wild-life photography that is candid and technically un-re-touched. It is stunning to watch animals shot at close distance in hazy daylight and muted colours without the technical gimmickry of post-production.
The film despite its tightness remains limited in scope. The Pandora’s box of relationships that it opens is left unattended to and it seems almost unnecessary to have gone there at all. Stilted English dialogues and delivery forces one out of the well-built drama constantly. Add to that stilted performances by Nandana Sen and Ankur Vikal and it is only Javed Jaffrey who shines in his understated performance of the fearless, bitter man with dubious intentions.
The film ends on a note of educating us about tiger extinction but even without the good intentions it’s a film that’s commendable for more things it gets right than wrong.