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Poacher review: This Nimisha Sajayan's series makes a compelling case for why you should care about elephants

Poacher review: After watching, this series, starring Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, the way you see artefacts made out of ivory will change forever. 

Poacher review: This Nimisha Sajayan's series makes a compelling case for why you should care about elephants
A still from Poacher.

Last Updated: 08.30 AM, Feb 23, 2024


Poacher story:

A team of determined forest officials moves mountains to bring elephant poachers and their bosses to justice. The series is inspired by the real-life investigation led by Kerala officials in 2015, which culminated in the biggest-ever haul in the history of the illegal ivory trade.

Poacher review:

Filmmaker Richie Mehta has returned with another crime series. He received international acclaim with Delhi Crimes in 2019, inspired by the 2012 Nirbhaya case that shook the country. The Netflix series garnered an immediate, strong, and profound response from viewers in India. However, Richie's Poacher is inspired by crimes that happen beyond our grasp and sight. Hence, there is an inbuilt challenge for Richie: how to captivate audiences with a narrative about crimes committed against wildlife species?


At a time when humanity is being pushed to its extreme at all fronts across the world, and the majority of the world's population is in distress for various reasons, how can you make ordinary citizens care about wildlife? It may seem like a niche problem to people feeling exhausted by the challenges thrown at them by the rapidly changing world. In a country where 74 percent of the population cannot afford a healthy diet, how do you expect them to care about whether or not snakes are treated with compassion?

And yet, Poacher makes a compelling case as to why everyone should care about conserving wildlife. This series is a classic tale of the struggle between haves and have-nots, complicated by layers of man-made problems. Men from a lineage of hunters are driven to poaching because wealthy art dealers offer top dollar for raw elephant tusks. The high-profile, wealthy art dealers turn tusks removed from murdered male elephants into artefacts sold to super-rich Indians, seemingly looking for exotic things to spend their surplus wealth. This nexus of demand and supply threatens to destroy our ecosystem's greatest ally: forests.

Poacher begins with a guilt-stricken forest watcher voluntarily knocking on the doors of the forest department, confessing to being part of a gang that killed 18 elephants. The forest department is shocked, and officials tasked with protecting wildlife come under heavy fire. Neel (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), an ex-spy now operating as a forest field officer in Kerala, puts together a small team of investigators to chase and arrest those behind this racket. This team is efficient, but what makes them dynamic is their uncompromising commitment to protecting the forests. And for forests to thrive and survive, they need their engineers —elephants.

Mala (Nimisha Sajayan), a forest ranger, and Alan (Roshan Mathew), a software programmer turned wildlife conservationist, will spend the next few weeks in each other's company as they go after hunters and their bosses across the country. It's through the struggles of Neel, Mala, and Alan and the sacrifices they make at an exemplary personal cost in protesting wildlife that Richie creates a segue for the narrative to transcend beyond a mere procedural drama and assume a sense of urgency, highlighting the simple fact the quality of our life depends on the health of our ecosystem.

Nimisha Sajayan brings her A-game as a forest officer striving to atone for the sins of her father, who was a hunter and killed many wild animals during his heyday. Roshan effortlessly fits into the role of Alan, reemphasizing that the qualities of a modern man go beyond his muscular prowess. Neel infuses the narrative with a lot of positive energy and reminds us that not all government officials are complacent, lazy, and corrupt. It's a tale of a few good people trying to stand up to heartless rich individuals destroying the lives of the less fortunate simply because they can.

The verdict:

After watching Poacher, the way you see artefacts made out of ivory will change forever. It's no longer a symbol of wealth that can buy exotic things inaccessible to the majority of people. Instead, you will see them for what they are—a symbol of arrogance, ignorance, and ostentatious display of greed. This is the greatest achievement of Poacher.


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