Poacher has a noble cause but languid treatment



Nimisha Sajayan and Roshan Matthew in Poacher. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

A series conceived and executed with a missionary zeal and lots of passion, with real-life characters dramatized and fictionalized as the main reel players and a solid cause—of animal and environmental preservation—should ideally be an edge-of-the-seat thriller. This is because the real-life facts themselves are chilling and show extreme human depravity. Right from the ground-level poachers who shoot elephants only for material gains to those who earn literally billions through marketing ivory and includes politicians, tycoons and other businessmen and women who will stop at nothing, we get to see a graphic picture of human brutality only for Mammon.

The story is based on real-life events and the biggest poaching incident in Kerala. But, except for parts of the last episode, though we know that everything will work out well anyway, there is barely a tense moment. Instead a languid thriller is what we get that could have far more intense and crisp. There is excessive diversion and time spent on the personal lives of the main characters, and needless shots of views and VFX-generated animals and birds only to show, we guess, the importance of animals for us human beings. Budgets and time both could have saved without such needless splurging of resources!

Director Richie Mehta brings a kind of Western sensibility into this series and finally emerges as long-drawn-out story that could have narrated crisply (instead of in eight) in six episodes, if not five. Pungent lines and poignant visuals are there, of course, but the overall pace is very slack and documentary-like, considerably reducing both the charm of the viewing and also curtailing its emotional effects on us. Such a saga should have ideally had a searing effect on us but it barely makes us even teary-eyed, though we are definitely appalled repulsed by the horrendous sights of the callously mutilated pachyderms.

Another complaint: Dibyendu Bhattacharya is an immense actor, and his voice is also very effective, so I fail to understand what made the makers dub his vocals throughout!

On the plus side, apart from the technical aspects like the cinematography, DI and VFX, the make-up and costumes and most of the background score, the story of how dedicated forest officers, cops, other officials and even laymen come together to bring the perpetrators of such heinous deeds to justice is by itself uplifting. But what was needed for such an ‘inspired-by-real-life’ thriller was lots of drama sans melodrama. This series, despite all the hype, could have benefitted with a director with Indian sensibilities, as it stops short of being a winner.

The performances also stand out. Nimisha Sajayan and Roshan Matthew, especially the former, get deep into their roles and their dedication and passion for their characters, as with Dibyendu, are almost tangible. Kani Kusruti as Dina and Sooraj Pops as Aruku are also excellent. Sapna Sand leaves an indelible mark as Poonam Verma, the brain behind the evil. The rest fit the bill.

If Poacher is still worth watching, it is for the cause it endorses. There is even a QR code at the end of the show that can be scanned to make donations for the cause of wildlife preservation. But as a thriller based on what I personally feel is a gigantic cause, it just gets pass marks.

Amazon Prime Video presents QC Entertainment’s, Suitable Pictures’, Poor Man’s Productions & Eternal Sunshine Productions’ Poacher  Created by: Richie Mehta Executive Produced by: Alia Bhatt, Prerna Singh, Edward H. Hamim Jr. & Raymond Mansfield  Directed by: Richie Mehta Written by: Richie Mehta, Surendra Kumar, Suprotim Sengupta & Gopan Chidambaran (Malayalam) & Amrita Bagchi (Bengali) Starring: Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Matthew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Kani Kusruti, Ankith Madhav, Ranjitha Menon, Maala Parvathi, Denzil Smith, Hannah Reji Koshy, Noorudheen Ali Ahmed, Zhinz Shan, Sooraj Pops, Praveen T.J., Amal Rajdev & others 



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