The Forest

2009 Feature

A vacationing couple are disturbed by the arrival of the wife’s ex-lover, opening wounds that are best left unhealed; but their troubles have only begun. They are being hunted by a leopard that’s turned man-eater and will stop at nothing to satisfy its hunger.

More than a hundred and fifty people are injured or killed in leopard and tiger attacks in India every year because of poaching and encroachment in the wilderness.

Once a predator becomes used to the taste of human flesh he becomes a man-eater.

The Forest

Behind the Scenes

This is the story of making a thriller with wild animals, prosthetics, special effects, visual effects on a punishing schedule.

Filming with leopards | Animal Planet Documentary

Animal Planet joins the crew of The Forest. A documentary on how the leopard sequences of The Forest were filmed.

The Forest | Hindi Version

The Forest is an English film, but can also be watched in Hindi.

Story

A couple from a big city, Radha (Nandana Sen) and Pritam (Ankur Vikal) are on vacation in the Indian jungle to sort out a troubled marriage when they run into the wife’s ex-lover, Abhishek (Javed Jaffrey) and his son Arjun (Salim Ali). As husband and lover lock horns for the woman, primitive instincts find voice in the wilderness and they become blind to signs of a lurking presence. A starving leopard has been shot by poachers and can’t hunt his normal prey. Desperate for a kill he turns on the weakest animal in the jungle - man. In a night of terror, survival will depend on outwitting a formidable hunter of the wild, a perfect killer who has become so accustomed to hunting man that he’s begun to think like us…

Cast

Pritam
Ankur Vikal
Abhishek
Javed Jaffrey
Radha
Nandana Sen
Arjun
Salim Ali Zaidi
Bhola Ram
Tarun Kumar

Crew

Writer/Director
Ashvin Kumar
Producers
Judith James & Ashvin Kumar
Executive Producers:
Dr Vijay Mallya
Mohammed Juma
Geraldine East
Ritu Kumar
Shashi Kumar
Director of Photography
Markus Huersch
Production Design & Special-Effects Co-ordinator
Sylvain Nahmias
Art Design
Emmanuelle Pucci
Designer prosthetics and makeup effects
Guillaume Castagné
Wildlife Cinematography
Vijay Bedi, Ajay Bedi
Sound Design
Roland Heap
Sound Editor
Rael Jones
Music
Matt Robertson
Costume Designer
Ritu Kumar
Visual effects supervisor
Brynley Cadman
First Assistant Director
Deepika Gandhi

French Leopards

We had to film our leopard sequences in Thailand as animal protection laws prohibit the filming of captive animals in India. Thierry Le Portier (Gladiator, Two Brothers, Life of Pi). Leopards are one of the hardest of the big cats to train. Kali and Joy, the leopards seen in The Forest were flown from Paris to Bangkok. Our Thai team found forests that resembled those filmed in India. We rebuilt the roof of the rest-house to match the roof sequences shot in India. Using split screens and blue screens, the actors were merged with the leopard sequences.

Special Effects & Prosthetics

The Forest drew upon the skills of French prosthetics and make-up expert, Guillaume Castagne (Kiss of the Dragon, Transporter 3), who delivered the frighteningly realistic, mutilated human-limbs and bodies, which result from a mauling by a big-cat.

Abbey Road

The original music of the film was written by composer Matt Robertson and performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. The Indian instruments were recorded in New Delhi. Matt sent his compositions over the internet and we would discuss the score by video-conference each night.This cost effective way of working between two continents allowed us to make the recording at Abbey Road a reality. Or a surreality - Pink Floyd, The Beatles all over the walls. This is where The Lord of the Rings was scored. U2 had a booking after us and here we were, pinching ourselves, sitting on the same sofa as all of them.

Filming Wild Animals

Wildlife film-makers spend months, if not years, trying to capture the tiger, one of the most elusive animals on our planet. It was clear to me that, apart from the leopard, there would be no compromise on the other wild-animals seen in the film. I wanted the audience to share the thrill that I had experienced seeing these magnificent creatures for the first time in the wild. If its hard to spot a tiger, to be in the right position to film it and then match-it to a sequence being shot elsewhere, is a tall-order. My generation grew-up on the enduring images of Indian wildlife captured by Green-Oscar winning filmmakers Naresh and Rajesh Bedi, who took-up the challenge of doing-so in a week!

There was every possibility that they would return empty handed and tensions were running high for we’d reached the last day of filming and no tigers. The footage arrived in the nick-of-time - not the one tiger I’d asked for, but five - a tigress with four cubs! I re-designed my shots to make it look like the actors and animals were in the same location when in-fact the tigers were shot in Bandavgarh and the actors in Corbett, two-thousand kilometres apart. They matched seamlessly, without the aid of Visual Effects or digital post-production.

Jim Corbett

I imagined the Kumaon of Jim Corbett and tried to recreate his spirit; those curled up nights reading his man-eater tales and the spell that his storytelling cast on me. The stalking of a man-eater alone, on foot and the deep respect for his adversary came with the chilling awareness that on such a mission, the line between the hunter and the hunted would always be in his disfavor. Only someone who has stepped into the silky darkness of an Indian jungle on a moonless night can place into context what those exploits meant.

This film is about our inadequacies when confronted by the forces of nature and our frightening ignorance as to the effects of its disruption.