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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Neeraj Kabi Opens Up on Sherni & Creating the Patriarchal Barrier

Neeraj Kabi is an institution in acting. Natural, real and raw – all of his performances seem to revolve around these three aspects. He is now playing one of the grey roles in Amit Masurkar’s Sherni, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

The film narrates the story of an upright Forest Officer (Vidya Balan) – who strives for balance in a world of man-animal conflict while she also seeks her true calling in a hostile environment.

In the film, his role is of a senior forest officer in Sherni, who seems to undermine the prowess of the lead, almost like the antagonist. He shares with us what helps him to exude such shades on screen:

“It’s technique and craft and your own experiences as an actor, having worked over the years in theatre, film and the OTT platform. I would not really call myself the main antagonist because we are a collection of co-actors for Vidya that actually create this one human body – called the male.

How she struggles and crosses one of us is Vidya’s journey. To be able to put all this together, there is of course a mental, emotional and physical preparation. There is a technique preparation which all help to present an officer who is charming, looked up to by juniors. He is a people’s man. Yet he is very focused and sharp.”

In addition to Sherni, his filmography also boasts of distinct, non-conforming yet powerful stories. What exactly resonates with Neeraj as an actor?

“I was waiting to work with Amit and Vidya. What intrigued me more about the choices I made with projects is the importance of the story to be told.

When I was creating my character, I ensured that I make it such that the wall I’m creating between Vidya and her what she ultimately wants to achieve as a character, should be very powerful.

I don’t mind if my audiences hate me for being this nasty guy, but I will rather be that nasty guy and benefit the film, rather than benefit myself as an actor. All male characters need to stand in Vidya’s path like those unbreakable walls so she has to struggle to breakthrough.”

Watch our exclusive interview with Neeraj Kabi here: 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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