In a world where stories wield the power to provoke change, instill awareness, and kindle action, “Poacher,” the latest Amazon Original series, emerges as a beacon of purpose. Venturing into the treacherous realm of wildlife crime, this groundbreaking show transcends mere entertainment, aiming to ignite a movement. Premiering amidst fervent anticipation in London, it immerses audiences in the harrowing landscape of India’s illegal ivory trade. Now streaming on Prime Video since its debut on 23 February, this eight-episode saga promises an unflinching portrayal of crime, championing the fight for justice.

Before the glitz of the red carpet unfurled, before Bollywood’s luminaries adorned the scene, Alia Bhatt, the leading lady of Indian cinema, assumed the role of Executive Producer alongside the acclaimed Emmy-winning director Richie Mehta. Together, they embarked on a mission—a mission to not just entertain but to awaken minds and stir hearts. In an exclusive round table Q&A, graced by a cadre of journalists, including our Entertainment Reporter Milan, they unraveled the depths of their passion project. Beyond the allure of celebrity, they shared their vision, elucidating how the series transcends conventional storytelling, leaving an indelible mark on viewers’ souls.

Here we delve into the vibrant dialogue, extracting profound insights from the luminaries behind “Poacher,” a testament to the transformative power of storytelling.

What are your hopes in terms of raising awareness for audiences watching Poacher?

Executive producer Alia Bhatt. Image: Sterling Global

Alia Bhatt: “I’m not just here because Poacher is an entertaining series, but because stories like this are crucial. Entertainment has the power to genuinely raise awareness, and that’s true success. I experienced it myself as an audience member, being both engaged and informed. While I won’t spoil anything, prepare to be captivated, learn a lot, and have moments that resonate long after the credits roll.”

Can you share a specific moment that stayed with you during the filming?

Richie Mehta: “The most thrilling part wasn’t filming, but the deep dive into the lives of wildlife crime fighters. The most eloquent moment happened in Kerala with a biologist. We travelled 13 hours to a spot where wild Asian elephants feed on riverbed clay. It’s like candy for them. At 2:00 AM, a mother and baby emerged, quietly started eating, and glanced at us before continuing. That silent understanding, witnessed amidst research interviews, multiplied by a thousand—that’s the essence of my experience.”

When tackling tough issues like wildlife crime in “Poacher,” how do you manage the emotional impact? Is maintaining compassion crucial?

Series Creator Richie Mehta with Alia Bhatt. Image: Sterling Global

Alia Bhatt: “I’m a true Piscean. I’m extremely and highly sensitive and that’s the way I approach anything that I take on as a storyteller. As a consumer it’s very difficult to take compassion or empathy out of it because that’s the reason you’re watching it and connecting to it. At the end of the day, it is a crime show, but it’s got a hard emotional heart.”

Richie Mehta: “This is the first project I’ve ever made where I cried when I watched it. It’s not because of what I made of it, it’s because of what it reflects.”

Alia, you are the Rani of the box office, are you making more responsible choices now being a mother and bearing in mind what you make today could have tremendous impact on the next generation?

Alia Bhatt: Maybe I’ve become more aware after becoming a mother, it’s not only because of that; when I met you (Richie) at the time I was pregnant, but I just responded as a human being. I’ve always gravitated towards stories as an actor that can influence. At my production company Eternal Sunshine, we started with a subject like ‘Darlings’, wanting to entertain but leave a message in your heart. This is the first time I’m backing in an already created project, executive producer is just a fancy word. I’m just their mascot. I’m there to just champion and cheer them on and be the loudest speaker in the room so that everybody knows it’s out there for the world to see.

What do you think can be done for this to become a topic in every household and for every child to grow up learning about saving nature and wildlife and climate?

Alia Bhatt: “I started a sustainable children’s clothing brand with the intention was to build a young generation of future planeteers because you start young and then they’re the future. I understand that there are certain lives that really have nothing you know they must move with their day-to-day and they don’t have the time, and that’s depicted beautifully in the show. Let us as voices who can influence in a creative medium just make you feel.

Richie Mehta: The show talks explicitly about why wiping out the Asian elephant affects everyone in the world. India has some not the best laws on earth for wildlife protection and their enforcement agencies, government and NGO’s are amongst the best in the world. I’m showing even when the laws are great and even when the system is geared in a great way academically towards solving it; when you have 1.34 billion people in that environment and have so many species in that subcontinent the maintenance game is almost impossible.

Watch the full Q&A here: