Poacher is an entertainer with a cause

The Poacher press conference: Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Roshan Matthew, director Richie Mehta and Alia Bhatt are flanked by the Amazon team. Photo: Rajiv Vijayakar

Prime Video unveiled the powerful trailer of their original series, Poacher, a compelling investigative crime series that unearths the largest ivory poaching ring in Indian history with an event at Mumbai’s Grand Hyatt.

Poacher is an 8-episode crime drama featuring a talented cast including Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Matthew and Dibyendu Bhattacharya in pivotal roles. It is produced by Oscar-winning production company QC Entertainment and created, written and directed by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Richie Mehta, with actor, producer and entrepreneur Alia Bhatt as executive producer of the series. It will be available to stream on Prime Video in India and across 240 countries and territories worldwide on February 23.

Based on true events; Poacher unfolds primarily in Malayalam, Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and will have subtitles in over 35 languages. The trailer provides a glimpse into the reality of the merciless and incessant killing of elephants. It follows a diverse group of wildlife custodians comprising forest crime fighters, police personnel and good Samaritans. But will the silent victims of these criminal acts—the helpless elephants—receive the justice they truly deserve? This question resonates within the core of this thought-provoking crime series on human actions driven by personal gain and greed, thereby emphasizing the potential risks.

“As a global entertainment destination, at Prime Video, we have the incredible privilege of showcasing the best of Indian stories to consumers not just within the country but worldwide too. Poacher is a special story that will not just keep viewers gripped, but also evoke thought and lead to conversations on the all-important issue of wildlife crime,” said Manish Menghani, Director – Content Licensing, Prime Video, India.

He continued, “We are excited and honored to collaborate with some of the most respected and credible names in the entertainment industry to bring this story to a global audience. From Richie Mehta, one of the most talented directors of our times, to the content powerhouse, QC Entertainment, to Alia Bhatt, who has come onboard in the capacity of an executive producer, Poacher truly is a special story, and we can’t wait for audiences to enjoy it.”

“Every story has a hero, and when you get to meet the ones who may not wear a cape and yet are fighting against crime and injustice, you are inspired to tell their story to the world. Poacher is my tribute to wildlife crime fighters – the dedicated forest service officers, fervent members of wildlife conservation and protection organizations and animal lovers — people who are risking their lives to prevent endangering the animal species due to the personal greed of poachers,” writer, creator and director, Richie Mehta added.

He also said, “I am sure the series will act as an eye-opener in many ways – how interdependent and complex the relationship between humans and other species is, and how any negative action can result in an environmental imbalance, leading to dire repercussions. The series received an extremely encouraging and heartwarming response from the audience at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and I am thrilled that now, with Prime Video we are taking this series wider across the world.”

Executive producer Alia stated, “Being a part of this project is such a source of pride for me and our entire team at Eternal Sunshine Productions. Poacher is a clarion call to address the grave and heartbreaking issue of animal poaching and illegal wildlife trade. I hope that Richie’s powerful storytelling compels everyone to champion the urgent need for wildlife preservation and encourages us to embrace co-existence with all living beings. I am so happy to have found partners in QC Entertainment and Prime Video to bring this narrative to the world.”

“Being a part of Poacher has been a transformative experience for me. My character is intricately layered, having nuances of a strong-willed forest official with deep empathy and love for wildlife,” shared Nimisha Sajayan, who plays a determined Forest Department officer, and who could not attend the media meet as she was under the weather. “She is driven to bring the poachers to trial, and goes beyond the call of duty to unearth the deep and wide network of ivory smuggling. The series will compel viewers to ponder on the irreversible impact of humans’ actions on animals and the environment. It is a story that needed to be told, and I am grateful to be a part of a forthright project highlighting such an important issue.”

“I’m thrilled to be part of something that sensitively deals with the dire issue of animal poaching for selfish gains. The series explores the complicated world of crime, corruption and cover-ups related to elephant ivory poaching, which was creatively and conceptually exciting,” said Roshan Matthew, who portrays the role of an NGO worker in the series. “As someone who empathizes with the cause, I feel fortunate to play a character that deeply cares about nature and works for its protection. Richie’s masterful direction and the authenticity of the story make this series an exciting watch for anyone who enjoys crime dramas.”

“Over the course of my acting career, I have been a part of many projects, played a lot of diverse roles and loved each one of them, but Poacher holds a special place in my repertoire and heart. From the moment I read the script, it intrigued me and compelled me to be a part of the narrative,” said Dibyendu Bhattacharya, who plays the field director from the Kerala Forest Department. “The story tugs at your conscience, making you feel a myriad of emotions from anger, rage and sadness to helplessness and hope. Such stories need to be told, to bring a deeper impact in society. It’s about valuing and treasuring life in all its forms.”

Poacher is executive produced also by QC Entertainment’s Edward H. Hamm Jr., Raymond Mansfield and Sean McKittrick, in association with Suitable Pictures, Poor Man’s Productions and Eternal Sunshine Productions. Alan McAlex serves as producer for Suitable Pictures. Director of Photography Johan Aidt, composer Andrew Lockington and editor Beverley Mills are also a part of the team.

The press conference, as usual, had everyone raving about each other and the show (an Amazon hallmark) and the questions were carefully pre-selected and orchestrated (yet another Amazon trademark that ironically and very sadly nullifies the roles and presence of every mediaperson who has a query for anyone on the dais!).

I liked Alia’s honest quip, “This is a first for me in the sense that I am not in the trailer!” Richie added that the research alone had taken two years and the real adventure saw the unit battling leeches in the forest. Having also directed Delhi Crime, he pointed out that the species on whom the show is made will never get to watch Poacher!

However, what stood out tall at the end of the presentation was the fact that the media, except for the big-ticket Indian publications chosen (many of whose questions were superficial or catered to the egos of the team on the stage), never got to participate meaningfully with questions in the long-drawn presentation. In that sense, Amazon proved to be the real Poacher of the media’s time, for there were sincere media-persons who had spent hours in reaching the venue (and returning) who, like every right-thinking reporters, felt severely shortchanged at this continued cavalier attitude on the part of this platform.



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