“Poacher, It Tells Us Something We Must Hear” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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Our Rating

Poacher (Amazon Prime, 8 Episodes in Malayalam & Hindi)

Starring Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Kani Kusruti, Ranjitha Menon,Maala Parvathi

Directed by Richie Mehta

Poacher is about killing elephants for their tusk. Richie Mehta , known to not spare us any details from the scene of the crime (Delhi Crime) highlights scenes of poachers ripping out the priceless ivory from elephants wailing in unbearable pain.

I don’t know how Mehta shot these never-before scenes of cruelty to animals. We are assured that no animal was harmed during the shooting. We as the spectators are irreparably harmed.

It is not a pleasant sight to see how cruel we humans can be. Poached is an expose on a loveless irredeemably lost civilization which no longer cares about the damage we cause to our own earth every single day.

But we are straying. The focus here is on the plunder of elephants. It is not an easy breezy series to sit through. The characters run into numbers that are impossible to count, and each one is of specific relevance to the plot. So we spend a lot of time wondering how Aruku (Sooraj Pops) is connected to Poya (Praveen TJ).

The woods, as they say , are lovely dark and deep. Richie Mehta and his astutely observant cinematographer Johan Heurlin Aidt shoot the trigger-happy predators in a curiously un-predatory way. Yes, it is an inherently invasive act to penetrate the jungle. But the camera never feels predatory.

It is all about intention, I guess. The cast is immeasurably vast, the core focus being on a bunch of forest officers who are fighting a losing battle against Nature’s extinction. Mala (Nimisha Sajayan) who never smiles, Alan (Roshan Mathew) who smiles even when his world seems irretrievably lost , Neel (played by the indefinably natural Dibyendu Bhattacharya) who is dying and Vjay (Ankith Madav) who has a thing for Mala (not that she cares, why do female cops have to always be so sullen about their hearts?) … they look and feel like a team trying to stem the blood dimmed tideof a selfdestructive global community.

We are with them from the opening till the end when there is no satisfaction of a deserving closure. We are left where we started off. Richie Mehta is not in this to serve up false hope and flatter the audience. This is an irretrievably doomed world of plunderers and ivory merchants who don’t care where we go from here.

Doom is the prevalent mood. Poachers is not a happy serial. It makes no clever space for humour, unless you think Alan’s senior saying, “IF you still have a home” when he announces his departure,is meant to be funny (it is not). Each member of the save-the-world team has someone or the other waiting angrily at home. My favourite sullen wait-er is Mala’s mother, played memorably by Maala Parvathi.

Characterized by a series of action-reaction interludes (quite the opposite of what we see in, say, The Police Force) no incident is ‘planted’ for effect. Poachers has the disturbing even flattened-out tone of a drama that won’t humour the audience with manufactured highs. When it ends we feel no sense of vindication. Man’s relationship with Nature is screwed for keeps. This portrait of wounded civilization hellbent on wiping itself out of the map, is just the warning we need.

Our Rating

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