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Alia Bhatt On Turning Executive Producer For Poacher: “There Is A Lot Of Heart In It”

Alia Bhatt at Poacher trailer launch event


Actor-producer Alia Bhatt on Thursday said she decided to support the upcoming web-series Poacher as it uncovers an important true-life story that’s told with a lot of genuineness. Bhatt is an executive producer on the Prime Video series that marks director Richie Mehta’s return to streaming space with a show after the first season of critically-acclaimed Netflix show Delhi Crime.

An eight-part crime drama based on true events; Poacher uncovers the largest ivory poaching ring in Indian history. The show, starring Nimisha Sajaya, Roshan Mathew and Debyendu Bhattacharya in prominent roles, starts streaming on Prime Video from February 23.

“It really leaves an impact… Supporting a story like this, for us, as an audience is very important but I really thank Richie for putting this together… I think there is a lot of genuineness in it. There is a lot of heart in it and it comes across when you see the show,” Bhatt said at the trailer launch of the series.

Bhatt said she met the Emmy-winning filmmaker in 2020 and discussed various topics, from parenting to cinema, art and Poacher. Mehta shared two episodes of the show and she was hooked.

Mehta said the story came to him while he was working on a documentary project with Google, “India in a day” in 2015.

He had invited videos from across the country for the crowd-sourced project and one of them was about ivory raiding in Delhi and it from the WildLife Trust of India.

“It was basically officers breaking down the door and finding this ivory in a flat and I was shocked. I couldn’t believe in what I was seeing. I contacted the Wildlife Trust and asked, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘We did the biggest ivory raid in the history of India on your shoot day’.” Mehta said he couldn’t use the footage in the documentary but promised to do a project on that. He started researching and got to know about wildlife crime fighters.

“I did not think that job title existed. I was so enamoured by these people. Result of that is this series,” he said, adding that the show is a fictionalised dramatisation of true events.

“It is inspired by the biggest poaching case in India. Many characters are amalgamation of it and some of them are direct.” Mathew, who plays the role of a computer programmer, said he was thrilled to be part of the series after he learnt that it was to be directed by Mehta.

“This was one of the easiest yes that I’ve said, it checked all the boxes. The moment I was approached to audition (for this series), I was instantly excited as Richie Mehta was doing it. I knew him as a maker and I was supremely excited by his work, and I really wanted to collaborate with him.

“The audition happened, and luckily, I got the part, then I got the script. It was such an exciting script, it’s all based on true events. It doesn’t follow a set structure or formula that you are familiar with,” he said, adding the character is completely different from who he is in real life. He also praised Sajaya, with whom he has worked on Oru Thekkan Thallu Case and Chera.

Mathew said he feels honoured to collaborate with Bhatt again post their 2022 critically-acclaimed film, “Darlings”, which also marked Bhatt’s debut as a producer. He said he respects Bhatt as an actor and is amazed by her passion for cinema.

“The last time when we were on a stage which was this big, it was for a project (‘Darlings’) that gave birth to Eternal Sunshine Productions (Bhatt’s banner). It was a song launch, at that point Alia was my co-actor. It was one of the most memorable biggest projects in my career, I was very fortunate to be part of it.”

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