Alia Bhatt interview: On why she entered the world of ‘Poacher’ and her love for wildlife

Bollywood star Alia Bhatt, along with director Richie Mehta and actors Roshan Mathew and Dibyendu Bhattacharya, talk about how the web series ‘Poacher’ is entertaining yet relevant

February 21, 2024 01:02 pm | Updated 02:48 pm IST

Alia Bhatt during the trailer launch of the Amazon Prime Video original series ‘Poacher’ in Mumbai

Alia Bhatt during the trailer launch of the Amazon Prime Video original series ‘Poacher’ in Mumbai | Photo Credit: PTI

Alia Bhatt’s love for nature and wildlife began when she was a child. “As kids, my sister (Shaheen Bhatt) and I would rescue kittens,” says the actor. She has now come on board as the executive producer of the upcoming web series, Poacher , a crime drama which revolves around forest officials trying to uncover an ivory poaching ring.

“We have a responsibility towards our planet, and that’s one of the reasons why I became a part of Poacher,” says Alia, during an interaction with The Hindu in Mumbai. “Animals bring so much joy to us. It’s important to reinstate the significance of the coexistence between humans and animals. I thought Poacher conveyed this message. The series speaks for an important cause,” she shares.

Alia adds that she and her daughter Raha enjoy connecting with nature. “My daughter grew up around animals, and she has so much love for them. When you start growing up, you get occupied with school and college. And then, life takes over with excessive human interaction. In this context, a scientific explanation makes so much sense — It says that when you see greenery, your brain releases dopamine and you feel calm.”

Nimisha Sajayan in ‘Poacher’

Nimisha Sajayan in ‘Poacher’ | Photo Credit: Prime Video India/YouTube

Writer and director of Poacher, Richie Mehta, who won the International Emmy Award for web series Delhi Crime, calls the Malayalam thriller a conscience-driven project. “There are just about 40,000 Asian elephants left in the world. Statistically, and eventually, they could go extinct. We don’t understand what extinction means because we never grapple with it. What does it mean when something is gone forever? The saddest I ever been was during the shooting of Delhi Crime, when northern white rhinoceroswent extinct. I was in tears,” says Richie.

About the process of creating the series, he adds, “The art of balancing a strong social theme with the pace of your film or a series depends on many factors. The result is a mixture of editing, music, and tone. I keep my scripts as real as possible, and that helps. Thrillers are paced a certain way, and with every episode, the story moves faster. That’s what I have tried to achieve in this series.”

Actor Nimisha Sajayan plays a fierce forest officer, while Roshan Mathew essays the role of a computer programmer who fights wildlife corruption while staying undercover, in the series. After starring in Tamil films Jigarthanda: Double X, the hit sequel to Karthik Subbaraj’s Jigarthanda (2014), and the widely acclaimedChithhaNimisha’s dream run continues with Poacher. “Nimisha is really in the moment while performing. She is always motivated and goes after what her heart tells,” says Roshan.

Alia echoes Roshan’s thoughts. “I was moved by her performance,” she confesses. “I saw something in Nimisha that I had never seen before in an actor. I deep-dived into her work. I had seen her in The Great Indian Kitchen. In Poacher, she kept taking her performance to the next level with every scene. Like Roshan said, she is an actor who commits herself to the moment,” says Alia.

From left: Alia Bhatt, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Richie Mehta and Roshan Mathew at the trailer launch of ‘Poacher’

From left: Alia Bhatt, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Richie Mehta and Roshan Mathew at the trailer launch of ‘Poacher’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement.

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The struggle for a work-life balance faced by his character was relatable “especially when you pursue this profession (cinema)“, says Roshan. “I haven’t had enough experience in the field to attain a certain level of maturity. I haven’t yet added the responsibility of running a family to my existing challenge. But I play a real-life character who has achieved that. My character realises that his passion drives him elsewhere, but he is also upset for being an absent father. So I had to draw references from my own life, talk to the actual person, and understand what Richie had written, to play my character,” he explains.

Actor Dibyendu Bhattacharya, while speaking about his role of a field director in the Kerala Forest Department, says acting is an evolving process. “As an actor, I prepare every day. On the sets of a project, we work on the mannerisms of the particular character. Otherwise, every day, I am trying to be better as an actor,” he adds.

The series is set to stream on Amazon Prime Video from February 23

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