“…But once something happened which made it stop. For a moment, the eyes of the entire world turned to Delhi. It was a crime that took the city to the brink,” says the narrator. Sombre music plays in the background as a zoomed-out view of the capital city of Delhi is shown on camera, lit up by several lights at night.
The scene instantly shifts to the city, this time from a zoomed-in police van’s angle, where the officers see a crowd gathered in the streets at dawn. What they see, shocks them – just the way the horrific incident shocked one and all across the country, and perhaps, as the narrator suggested, the world.
Two people are found. A girl and a boy, both in their 20s. Both beaten profusely by six men. The girl was gang-raped, but the only thing going on her mind is “Papa ko mat batana (Don’t tell my father).” The scene instantly gets to you, as you realise where the story is heading, what it is all about. This is about the Nirbhaya case that sent chills down several spines in 2012.
What Netflix India’s latest seven-episode crime-drama Delhi Crime attempts to do, is to show a lesser-known point of view on the much-reported case – from the eyes of the police. Does it live up to its potential without over-dramatising a sensitive topic though? Read on to know.
Plot: We have all read the story of Jyoti Singh. Of how everything panned out in 2012. It remains extremely close to a lot of hearts not just because of the hideousness of the crime that took place, but also because of the sheer injustice that happened to an innocent 23-year old whose only ‘fault’ was to board a bus full of heartless hooligans. There were endless debates on what happened, what could’ve, should’ve happened instead, how unsafe the city – the country was becoming for women – and so much more. It was all so unsettling that a name that went relatively unnoticed was another woman – DCP Chhaya Sharma, the inspector who led the case along with her 41-member team of police officers who investigated the case. The series gives an overview of what they went through. Of what DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah), loosely based on DCP Sharma, went through while investigating a case everyone was talking about.
Execution: Each episode lasts for 40 minutes to an hour. Director Richie Mehta presents it in a docu-drama format and delves upon what happens before, during and after the incident, not just in the life of victim Deepika but also the rest of the characters. The narration is gripping, the editing is crisp and the scenes are presented with sensitivity. You can feel what the characters are going through, and that is what clicks the most about the series. The scenes with Deepika and her parents leave you pained as you see the level of trauma that all the characters are going through, especially knowing the fact that this was all too real. What also stays with you are the details – from what happened, to the level of injuries, to the state that Deepika is in. Yes, we have read about them, but the more it is reiterated in dialogue, the more horrific it sounds. It leaves you cold and shattered just thinking about it.
Performances: Shefali Shah is a firecracker of a performer and this series is testament to just that. She lives the character of Vartika Chaturvedi as a DCP, as a mother, as a woman, with lots of valour and dignity. Another character that shines throughout the series is Rasika Duggal, who after spirited performances in Made In Heaven and Mirzapur, is back as trainee IPS officer Neeti Singh. She acts as a bridge between the police and Deepika’s family and presents a more personal take on the incident. The dependable Rajesh Tailang as the practical Bhupendra Singh stands out from his first scene and delivers a brilliant performance as one of Vartika’s trusted inspectors. The rest of the cast too deliver a fine performance, not once overplaying the seriousness of the situation. A special mention to Yashaswini Dayama as Chandni and her relatable storyline that tends to stay with you.
The show presents an almost utopian version of the police and the system though, which is hard to overlook and digest. It’s well-presented in every form but at the end of it should be seen only as a drama, not a documentary. This show is also not exactly meant for binge-watching. It’s all very heavy to take in and is sure to make you feel shattered. The advice to follow here is to watch at your own pace, consume all the information and narration with your own time. After all, it’s not only about five days of investigation leading to arrests but also about the questions that lie within – How safe are we? How does it stop? And what are we doing about it?
We give it 3.5 chirps, also in a hope to see Shefali in more such performances that explore her immense talent.