An Uneasy Appreciation of Delhi Crime, On Netflix, Film Companion

The crime drama series Delhi Crime by Richie Mehta transcends the stereotypes established by popular crimes dramas that precede it. Apart from being a thriller that checks all of the boxes of an action-packed police story, Delhi Crime goes far beyond by being first and foremost a social drama inspired by true events. Following the events that led to the arrest of the culprits of the harrowing 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, the series is tough to watch – the very reason it is important. Mehta represents the highly disturbing details in a crude manner that comes close to representing the collective horror felt by the general public in real life.

Shefali Shah plays the strong role of DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, aided by Officer Neeti Singh, played by the versatile Rasika Dugal. The duo work in hierarchically different capacities to bring justice and some comfort to the victim’s family.

Mehta does not shy away from the grit and grease while portraying the tireless investigation of the case. He gives the script a prominently personal angle by the introduction of Yashaswini Dayama as Chandni, DCP Chaturvedi’s young daughter. Chandni vows to leave the unsafe country after witnessing the distressing news. She also becomes paranoid about her male friends. In showing the chain effect of crimes on women and the crippling fear that they induce in all women, Delhi Crime broadens its horizon to represent a deep, dark reality extending far beyond the purview of one seemingly isolated case. As the strong lead appeals to a junior officer with her “womanly charm” to get him to do his job, we are encouraged to see the prevalence of patriarchy even within the alleged harbingers of justice.

The series is not, however, neutral in its portrayal of the police force. In Mehta’s vision, the police are decidedly and largely governed by an inner sense of duty. The vast majority of the characters go out of their way to fulfil their responsibility and weed out the criminals from their hiding spots. Similarly, the death penalty is also inarguably portrayed as the epitome of justice. This begs the question of the authenticity of this portrayal during the current times when voices against the unchecked power of the force are increasingly rising. While it can (and probably will) be passed as a subjective portrayal of a questionable institution, these questions are nonetheless the ones that stand out in a critique of the show.

Shah’s sturdy performance becomes the most striking component of the series. A well-cast ensemble only affirms the future of web series as the new-found reservoir of talented actors. Delhi Crime has often been described as a disturbing show, a quality inevitably crucial in a series that portrays the event that it does. For those who do gather the courage to watch the show, it is a reminder of the all too prevalent reality and of the thousands of similar cases that it attempts to symbolise. It does not cushion the shock of gruesome details. It should not have to.

Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.

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