Warning: Spoilers ahead
I don’t think anyone can forget the Delhi gang rape case, commonly known as Nirbhaya Case, which took place in 2012, where a Delhi student was raped and assaulted by a gang of 6 men on a moving bus, along with a male friend. The heinous crime was never easy to forget and its impact was such that it drove the Indian government to pass new laws on sexual assault.
Last week Netflix released a fictionalize version of the same case with the name ‘Delhi Crime’. The series gained instant audience and despite being a highly sensitive issue for almost everybody, it is receiving its due share of praise and attention from viewers. The series dramatizes the police-centric version of the case and detailed the story of what happened within the 6 days following the incident. The show has been directed brilliantly by Richie Mehta after researching and working on the case’s investigations for 6 years. We have often seen true crimes depicted in all kinds of different perspectives, but Delhi Crime stands out for its originality in showing the Delhi Police’s hard work that was questioned and criticized throughout the whole investigation when almost nobody knew what went on behind the police station gates.
Mehta introduced all the police officers (along with their details and years they have served in their respective departments and expertise to highlight their experience and professionalism) who worked this case to catch the convicts within numbered days, their interactions with non-serious officers and also the political pressure they worked against. This is perhaps why Mehta also focused on not letting any officer’s story left untold.
It is nearly impossible to watch ‘Delhi Crime’ without feeling horrified at the horrendousness of the crime. Despite knowing all about the incident that took place, my heart kept on praying for not wanting to see it visually represented in all its gory detail, and I am so glad that Mehta decided to not exploit violence. Even though I had read all about the incident, it was an entirely different experience to watch it played out through various characters. The story had me clench my fists in anger, shock, horror and frustration throughout first two episodes of the series, but also release them when I continued watching the investigation unfold with unwavering effort and perseverance.
The main character of the series is Vartika Chaturvedi, DCP South Delhi, alter ego of Chhaya Sharma who single-handedly took over the case and invested herself and her finest officers in catching all the convicts with a country wide search. Chaturvedi is played by the phenomenal Shefali Shah, with such ease. She doesn’t let her emotions or her unfettered passion towards solving the case get in the way of personal aggrandisement. Shefali’s star performance makes you believe in the power of underrated actors in India. She portrays the character of a selfless, honest officer who, even after witnessing the victim hanging between life and death, does not allow her spirit to break. The anger mirrored through her character keeps the audience invested, they believe in, and vouch for her to catch and hang all the criminals. All this while she deals with various obstacles in her personal life as well.
The show features some of the greatest actors from the Web Series World so deeply involved in their characters, that it almost looks like you are watching the story unfold all over again right before your eyes. Due to Chaturvedi’s passion, all of her fellow officers are also driven to give their very best and not give up; their anger and single-minded purpose makes the viewers sit up and respect a job that might endow authority, but also carries great responsibility and dedication – there were no quitters in this story and that, perhaps, earned the greatest respect from the audience.
Delhi Crime is a prime example of the fact that it is possible to deliver Indian content without glamour and unreal twists like almost everything else on the internet. This is what progressive content is all about, this is how the audience is stepping outside the world of misogynistic characters and larger-than- life- films or TV worlds. And the audience needs it – they need to see progressive female characters, not only because the story supports one, but also because there are many who’s stories are untold or hidden behind others.
Episodes are almost 50 minutes long, but they never drag as the audience feels more and more connected to the reel world with each successive episode. As the investigation unfolds, you almost live through those 6 days with the characters, every minute of it, and how each and every character suffered in the quest to achieve what they set out to do. Not only that, you also catch situational humor at places where the officers are either, not taking their job too seriously, or having a friendly chat with Chaturvedi at the dinner table. These moments that gave a break to the otherwise intense proceedings and gripping story line.
In summary, the show did do justice to the entire case and gave it a new and brilliant perspective. The final credits hit home as the effort honors the victim’s legacy and how it will always live on, no matter what. The show has surfaced at the perfect time; where not only Indian, but also Pakistani audiences needed to see the other perspective. Delhi Crime is also receiving critical acclaim and accolades internationally because the Delhi Gang Rape case is already known in international media. If you are easily upset by gruesome, or violent true to life stories, then I recommend reading about the case first and then watching the show – but I feel this one is a must-watch in my books. Highly recommended!
Anum holds a Bachelors Degree in Media Arts from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. She passionately pursues a career in freelance film-making and content writing. Anum has worked with Ideas by Gul Ahmed, SIUT and Sukoon. She plans to launch her own web channel one day. Her Motto in life, in her own words: "Live in the moment, as it will pass, like everything else in life!"