Poacher review: Richie Mehta presents an evocative story about the illegal ivory trade

A disclaimer in Poacher informs viewers that India revised the Animal Protection Act which since 1991 has forbidden all types of wildlife hunting. Richie Mehta’s Poachers, which had its first three episodes premiere in the Indie Program Section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, begins with this reminder.

Poacher begins with an eerie shot of an elephant being shot dead in the Malayattor, Kerala woods, revealing what is hidden from view.

Poacher Storyline: Confession of a Forest Watcher

When a forest watcher confesses to participating in the killing of elephants, the confession spirals into a web of ongoing covert crimes.

The honest Field Director of the Kerala Forest Department, Neel Banerjee (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), is presented to us. He knows that if he wants to get out of this as fast as he can, his current group of guys won’t be any good.

The Field Director, Neel Banerjee, assigns the case to Mala Jogi, portrayed by Nimisha Sajayan. He does this due to her familiarity with the locals and their customs, as evidenced by her sharp sensitivity to the jungle’s sights and sounds.

Investigating the Ivory Trade: Dina Hunts for Morris Finn and Mala Seeks Help from Alan Joseph

When the action moves to Trivandrum, there is also subdivision officer Dina (Kani Kusruti). She hunts for a criminal named Morris Finn. He is one of the offenders involved in the ivory trade and other crimes.

Organizing the operation involves riskier methods. It starts with a dealer in the capital and potentially expands to global networks. Mala turns to Alan Joseph for help in locating phone numbers that will lead to the neighborhood thug, Raaz. Richie Mehta uses the investigative storytelling style with a strong focus on solid exposition. It is similar to the international Emmy-winning series Delhi Crime.

Johan Huerlin Aidt’s camera captures the shadows and vines of the forest’s dark understory. The camera frequently shows wild foxes and tigers, depicting the danger and beauty of Kerala’s forests in “Poacher.”

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