25 September 2023

Delhi Crime

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Creator/director: Richie Mehta

Cast: Shefali Shah, Rajesh Tailang, Rasika Duggal, Adil Hussain, Yashaswini Dayama, Denzil Smith.

This is a true story set in the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang rape that sent shock waves around the world. More than six years ago, it was an incident that shook India to its core.

The crime drama follows the investigation by Delhi Police to find the men who perpetrated the brutal crime in south Delhi. The series is a mélange of fact and fiction, based on the case files of police who arrested the six perpetrators within five days.

The seven-episode season of Delhi Crime is disturbing, murky and an outstanding original Netflix series. It sheds light on the role played by Delhi Police in capturing the culprits, all the while handling the nation’s anger, inner conflicts, political pressure and media protests.

At first, the victim’s name was not released due to privacy laws in India. She was referred to as ‘Nirbhaya’, meaning fearless. It was her mother Asha Devi who made her name public because she was not ashamed and wanted to de-stigmatise victims of sexual assault and their families.

Medical student Jyoti Singh and her friend Awindra Pratap Pandey boarded a bus to go home after seeing a movie on 16 December 2012. Reportedly the bus was off-duty even though it had five other passengers and the driver onboard.

The series follows the story where Deputy Commissioner of Police Vartika Chaturvedi (Shah) takes the helm of the investigation to find the culprits responsible for the assaults, and Jyoti’s death.

Less than 24 hours after the attack, police used CCTV footage from the highway to locate the bus driver who was arrested on the same bus where the assault took place. Police located others using sketches based on Awindra’s descriptions and texts sent from the victims’ stolen phones. Jyoti was only able to give statements through hand gestures and multiple-choice questions.

Delhi Crime is intensely accomplished and exceptionally well directed by Indo-Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta (Amal, I’ll Follow You Down, Siddharth). The series takes us behind the scenes to [rightly] focus much more on the investigation and police, rather than the brutal events on the bus. Sufficient context is provided in flashbacks.

The whole cast give top-notch performances. Shah is excellent in her role; she is not only horrified at the tragedy, but intensely committed to bringing the culprits to justice. The two female officers are exceptional – DCP Chaturvedi and Neeti Singh (Dugal). Another portrayal worthy of note is from Rajesh Tailang as Inspector Bhupendra Singh.

Delhi Crime is an important story told with compassion and accountability. It is powerful, candid and emotive.

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