Avni shooter alleges wrong portrayal in Vidya Balan’s ‘Sherni;’ mulls legal action

Facts around 2018 operation to shoot man-eating tigress twisted in OTT film, says Asghar Ali Khan

Vidya Balan-starrer Sherni was released on Amazon Prime Video last Friday.

Hyderabad-based shooter Asghar Ali Khan is looking at initiating legal steps against the producers of Vidya Balan-starrer Sherni, which was released on Amazon Prime Video last Friday. The movie, allegedly built around the shooting of tigress Avnia in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal region, which made headlines in 2018, has “twisted facts”, Asghar Ali has said.

The hunter sent a legal notice to the film’s producers, Abundantia Entertainment Pvt Ltd, two weeks back, but is reportedly unhappy with the response, and is looking at legal recourse.

Also read: Vidya Balan shines in this wildlife adventure with a tragic twist

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Asghar Ali is the son of Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, also a well-known shooter. The father-son duo has been portrayed as ‘trigger-happy’ hunters in Sherni, he alleged.

Asghar Ali Khan and Nawab Shafath Ali Khan. Pic: http://nawabshafathalikhan.com

Invitation from government

Avni had turned a maneater, and was recorded to have mauled 14 people to death. Following this, the government had invited the shooters to kill the tigress. The movie had, on the other hand, made it seem they were hunting for amusement, Ashgar Ali was quoted as saying by media reports.

The matter is sub-judice, and the movie has made it worse for the father-son by projecting them in a bad light, he added. This was tantamount to contempt of court, he further observed. The Avni hunting case is pending before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court.

Responding to the Khans’ notice, Abundantia Entertainment said the OTT film is not related to them, and that it is a piece of fiction. The shooters were raising objections solely on the basis of conjecture, with little real merit, it added.

Too many similarities

Dismissing the filmmakers’ argument, Asghar Ali said the similarities between the film’s story and actual incidents were too many to be considered coincidence. For instance, the real operation also had a lady officer (Vidya Balan plays one in the film). Also, in the 2018 operation, two of the tigress’ cubs was used to draw Avni, and this was repeated in the movie, he said.

He was far from trigger-happy, said Asghar Ali. He never sought to kill any animal. On the other hand, governments invited him to deal with man-eating wild beasts that were causing a havoc in the neighbourhoods close to jungles, he added.

While his father is also a famous hunter, Ashgar Ali’s grandfather advised the British rulers back in the 1930s.

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