Real-Life Mala Jogi, Alan Joseph And Neel Banerjee In ‘Poacher,’ Explained


The Amazon thriller series Poacher revolves around a rigorous investigation conducted by the officers of the Kerala Forest Department in order to take down the criminals running an illegal ivory smuggling racket. These traffickers had been paying local hunters to kill elephants in the darkest corners of the forest for their tusks, which were later sent to the local carving artists, who turned these raw materials into finished sculptures. The finished artifacts were then exported to art dealers and brokers across the country who deal with national and international clients. It was a complex network that left behind a horrific amount of carcasses in the jungle, and the authorities had to do something about it before human greed consumed the entire ecosystem. In Richie Mehta’s series, we come across three salient officers: range officer Mala Jogi, software engineer Alan Joseph, and field director Neel Banerjee, who became the face of the investigation. These three prominent characters are based on real-life people who took part in Operation Shikar and arrested the people responsible for the crimes and cruelty against wildlife.

Spoiler Alert

Who is Manu Sathyan?

During an interview given to the Wildlife Trust of India, Richie Mehta revealed to the viewers that a real-life DFO of the Kerala Forest Department, named Manu Sathyan, became the inspiration for the character of Mala Jogi in the series. In real life, Manu, along with several other forest officers, worked closely with the Kerala Police Department to arrest the poachers and the middlemen operating in Kerala. Richie Mehta himself reveals that Mala Jogi is not based on one real-life person but rather an amalgamation of many officers working on the case, which might be one of the reasons why he switched the gender of the character in order to avoid any conflicts. Additionally, the entire backstory of Mala’s father being a poacher himself was completely fictional. It was most likely incorporated to add some internal conflicts to the character’s journey.

As for the real-life events, a local forest watcher named Kunjumon Devasey (named Aruku in the show) arrived at the police station with a confession that shook the entire state. Devasey had been helping the local poachers for almost two years. He would provide them with routes and other information so that the poachers could target the wildlife in the most secluded parts of the forest which the rangers would never visit or didn’t bother to check. The local watchers, on the other hand, would assure them that everything was well, which the rangers would mention in the reports without double examination.

When Devasey’s confession came to light, Manu Sathyan was working as a range officer in the Kerala Forest Department, just like his fictional counterpart. Manu was awaiting a promotion, and the case became a turning point in his life. With the support of his seniors, he didn’t leave a stone unturned to catch the culprits involved in a multi-gang ivory smuggling racket. The success of the operation became a milestone in Manu’s life. After the events of 2015, he was promoted to the post of DFO in the same department. Dealing with real-life criminals and poachers gave him the confidence to continue the good work. He became a prestigious member of the WTI and collaborated with them on several cases related to animal cruelty. Manu has been working as a forest officer for some 20 years now and has made it his life’s mission to protect wildlife at all costs.

Who is Jose Louies?

A real-life IT engineer from Kerala named Jose Louies became an inspiration for Richie Mehta’s fictional character Alan Joseph. During Operation Shikar, Jose, a technical analyst and representative of the WTI, worked closely with the Kerala Forest Department to catch the criminals involved in the ivory racket. He teamed up with Manu Sathyan to catch the middlemen involved in the racket and also scrutinized their phone call records to reach the bigger players sitting at the top. It was through this information that the police were able to catch Eagle Rajan and an art dealer named Umesh Aggarwal.

In real life, Jose Louies is a wildlife enthusiast with a keen interest in snakes and bees. As mentioned in the Poacher series, a real-life Jose does run a popular website and often advises doctors or patients about the correct anti-venom medications. The hospital incident that took place in the series is true, as Jose could recognize the snake at first glance and could recommend appropriate anti-venom so that the victim’s life could be saved in time. As of now, Louies serves as the Joint Director and Chief of Wildlife Crime Control under the wing of a non-profit organization, WTI, Delhi. He also visits several faculties in India as a guest lecturer in order to create awareness among the youth about wildlife protection programs. He also has a son and a wife with whom he lives a peaceful life while spending much of his time developing software that has been adopted by various national and international agencies to increase the protection of wildlife and stop crimes against them.

Who was Amit Mallick?

Born on June 13, 1964, in Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Mallick joined the Indian Forest Service in 1992 as Inspector General of Forests and had been posted in Kerala for a long time. In 2015, when Devasey’s confession came to light, the real-life field director, Dr. Mallick, along with Surendra Kumar, arranged a salient task force to lead the operation and catch the criminals as soon as possible. However, unlike Richie Mehta’s character, Neel Banerjee, who is very loosely based on Dr. Mallick, Dr. Mallick didn’t suffer from any life-threatening ailment. In the Poacher series, it was revealed that Neel Banerjee had been diagnosed with cancer; however, in real life, there is hardly any evidence to suggest the same. The conflict was most likely introduced in the series to give an emotional arc to the character.

After the Malayattoor poacher case, Dr. Mallick continued his efforts towards wildlife preservation and received various awards for the same. As of now, he works as an IGF, the second-in-command of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Through his role in the institution, Dr. Mallick has been trying to preserve the tiger population in the country and develop appropriate measures to achieve the goal.

Final Words

Other than the real-life heroes, the criminals portrayed in Richie Mehta’s series do bear a resemblance to reality. The characters of Poonam Verma and Ravi Don, along with Morris Finn, are all based on real-life people who ran the ivory smuggling racket in Kerala back in 2015. It is true that the forest rangers failed to keep a watch on all parts of the forest all the time, but with the help of people like Jose Louies and Manu Sathyan, the government was able to develop various software and equipment through which they could track even the minutest movement in the forest and quickly take action against the poachers. I hope these technologies will undergo further development in the future, thereby minimizing crime and cruelty against animals in all parts of the country.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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