One doesn’t usually associate the words ‘awesome cinematography’ with a Bollywood film. But then, The Forest is not your run-of-the-mill flick. For instance, it begins and ends in a jungle. In between lies the sort of video footage otherwise seen only on the Discovery channel. Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar’s forté as a documentary filmmaker is evident throughout. One particular aerial shot early on — of a boy lying in a stream of water that is gradually turning red, defining the absolute rawness of nature — sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
The story begins with a couple (Ankur Vikal and Nandana Sen) taking a break from the city in order to holiday in the jungle for a change. Why they choose this weird — not to mention, dangerous — spot to figure out their marital issues, while trying to have a vacation, isn’t explained. Anyway, they run into an old college mate (Jaaved Jaffrey) who is now a forest warden. An uneasy tension between the three is immediately apparent. It gets worse with the news that a man-eating leopard is on the loose.
Known for portraying comical roles, Jaffrey proves himself as a serious actor. His mere presence on the screen, armed with wit, merits deference. Vikal is likeable and mature, while Sen not only brings the oomph but also showcases her maternal instincts. The casting, therefore, is impeccable. Sadly, the plot isn’t.
Considering the film highlights a grave problem like poaching, and even relies on trained leopards for convincing ‘performances’, a better script could have helped up the entertainment quotient. Much of the suspense appears simulated, while the F-word-ridden storyline fails to keep pace with the amazing background score. If there’s one good thing, it’s the film not trying to be preachy.
90 minutes of blood, mutilation and more makes The Forest anything but a yawn fest. Having said that, it’s not for regular audiences either. Watch only if you like experimental cinema.