Art & Entertainment

Richie Mehta On 'Poacher': I Pick Subjects According To My Conscience

Filmmaker Richie Mehta says he is drawn to issues that affect him and 'Poacher', which is about the illegal Ivory trade in India, is one such story.

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Filmmaker Richie Mehta Photo: Instagram
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Filmmaker Richie Mehta says he is drawn to issues that affect him and 'Poacher', which is about the illegal Ivory trade in India, is one such story.

The investigative crime series is based on the biggest ivory poaching raid in Indian history from the lens of forest officials and wildlife warriors.

The Prime Video series marks Mehta's return to streaming after the critically-acclaimed Netflix show 'Delhi Crime', which was inspired by the police investigation into the 2012 gang rape of a woman in Delhi. It won the International Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series.

"I generally pick subjects according to my conscience... That's why I did 'Delhi Crime' and that's certainly why I did 'Poacher'. So, I'm guided by what I want to spend my time on as a human being. In this case, I wanted to spend my time with these amazing wildlife crime fighters on whom the story is based," Mehta told PTI in an interview.

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The filmmaker said he was moved by the selfless dedication of wildlife fighters trying to prevent the poaching of elephants.

"People are willing to die for this (saving elephants). I got so moved by that. And it's not like they're going to get a state funeral or recognition and even if they were in front of an elephant, the elephant would likely just step on them and kill them.

"There's no glory at the end of this except what your heart tells you. I've never experienced this type of altruism in the world, which is why I think this is worth telling," Mehta said.

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Mehta lauded the efforts of filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves who made documentary 'Elephant Whisperers' on elephant conservation. The Netflix documentary won an academy award last year in the best documentary short film category.

The win drew the attention of the world towards wildlife conservation.

"I'm very happy about the recognition for that film, and it deserves it. For me, there can be no limit to the amount of stories that revolve around conservation. The difference is documentaries have generally a set audience.

"An Oscar will help more people come to it, but it's a specific type of filming and there has not been any that I can think of, conservation-based drama or thriller,” said the Indian-Canadian filmmaker.

Mehta said he has infused elements of crime and thrill to expose the dark world of poaching in India. "It's a real story. But we're using crime and thriller as devices to talk about some big things." He added.

The eight-part series features Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew and Dibyendu Bhattacharaya.

For research, Mehta approached Delhi-based NGO The Wildlife Trust of India who introduced him to the wildlife crime fighters.

The character played by Roshan and Dibyendu is based on real-life individuals while Nimisha's character is amalgamation of people working in Kerala Forest department.

Actor producer Alia Bhatt is an executive producer on the series, which is set to premiere on Feb 23.

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