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- Even the most brutal and violent procedurals are designed with the audience’s comfort in mind. Unless you’re completely unfamiliar with the genre, you can listen in to a procedural and reasonably predict its rhythms and arcs. They’re shows meant to be watched with a sense of relief, knowing that whether the show is set in New York, L.A., Chicago, or Miami, crimes will be solved, diseases diagnosed, and cases tried in a familiar enough manner that you’ll be able to fold laundry, cook dinner, and vacuum the living room while watching them.
Based on the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape case, the series follows DCP Vartika Chaturvedi of South Delhi, who forms a special squad of officers to track down the six perpetrators while contending with substandard infrastructure, red tape, and rising public pressure.
Delhi Crime is not your typical ‘cat and mouse game, since it is based on the Delhi Police investigation into the Nirbhaya gang-rape case, a crime so horrible that it sent shockwaves throughout the nation and led people to the streets in protest. The series transports you back to the winter of 2012 through the eyes of DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah), a no-nonsense tough police officer with a heart. Deepika, who was gang-raped in a moving bus, and her injured friend Akash are found naked by the side of the road a few minutes into the first episode before head constable Ram Pratap arrives (Asif Ali Khan). The moment gives you the creeps, and it sets the tone for the rest of the series.
DCP Vartika’s nimble task group then sets out in various locations and paths in pursuit of the accused. The series provides subtle comments on the socio-political-economic situations we live in, and how they affect the police force, through its ‘realistic’ chronicle of the entire inquiry. It outlines the many obstacles they face on the job, including how poorly they are paid and sometimes treated, from standing up to politicians acting as a deterrent in the case to dealing with protests, red-tapism, poor infrastructure, mounting public pressures, and even flak from their own family members. You may see a more vulnerable and human side to them.
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The show is well-edited and fast-paced, with few deviations from the plot. It was gut-wrenching without being gory, and heart-wrenching without being melodramatic. Keep an eye out for the clever script, which is backed up by outstanding performances from the cast, both lead and supporting.
Place Netflix’s Delhi Crime Story under the anti-procedural procedural category. The seven-part drama, which screened its first two episodes as part of Sundance’s Indie Episodic program, centers on the type of horrible sex crime upon which Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit has constructed nearly 450 episodes – pause for a moment to process that number. Richie Mehta, a Canadian writer-director with a cinematic experience, is well-versed in procedural conventions. These patterns recur throughout the initial Delhi Crime Story episodes, and thanks to Mehta’s emphasis on cultural background, they all feel relatively new and continuously interesting.
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Delhi Crime Story is inspired by true incidents that occurred in 2012. The story begins when a naked man and lady are discovered in a ditch. He had been beaten. She was beaten and gang-raped in ways that are described in depth in the dialogue but are, luckily, less graphically depicted. The incident occurred aboard a city bus.
The many law enforcement figures involved in the case are introduced gradually, accompanied by chyrons indicating their rank and years of service. Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah), a long-serving department veteran who is fixated on the heinous nature of the crime and intends to personally supervise the case’s resolution, and Neeti Khanna (Rasika Dugal), an inexperienced trainee whose promise Vartika recognizes.
The series begins with a ground-breaking voiceover portraying Delhi as a grossly under-policed metropolis with more than half of the force assigned to traffic or VIP protection. It finishes by alluding to the fact that this was “a crime that brought the city to its knees.” The narration is borderline hard-boiled, and most of Vartika’s dialogue is similarly turgid, which led me to believe Delhi Crime Story was an Indian noir. It’s a possibility that I wholeheartedly supported, but one that did not materialize.
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Delhi Crime Story is one of those extended procedurals that Peak TV and streaming have spawned and permitted, in the same character-driven style as The Killing or Seven Seconds, but without the intricacy of those characters. The first two episodes almost entirely devoted to creating a crew and initiating the process of tracking down the crime-scene bus feature the most of the series’ most heavy-handed character beats. Vartika, for instance, has an adolescent daughter who is desperate to escape to Canada, thinking that India is a wasteland. Vartika takes it upon herself to convince her daughter to stay, a task made more difficult by the series’ core crime, which garners immediate media attention and misinformation. And Neeti goes on a date in anticipation of an arranged marriage, the kind of event that introduces the subject of gender norms and relational power dynamics among contemporary Indian youth. Nothing about these individuals is introduced that isn’t relevant to Mehta’s larger conceptual concerns, and any speech that isn’t pertinent thuds slightly.
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There just isn’t time for jokes or digressions when it would be more beneficial to demonstrate the intricate structure of the Delhi judicial system to viewers. This is when Mehta’s focus on exposition takes a lighter tone, which is perhaps for the best. Vartika is forced to handpick a motley squad of cops and detectives she knows she can trust in order to keep the case out of the quagmire of Delhi’s bureaucracy, which has an element of The Wire about it. Two episodes are insufficient for most of those investigators to create even the tiniest impression as persons, though I believe I’ve classified them as “harmfully inept” or “perhaps effective.” Almost every piece of incremental advancement necessitates either cashing in on existing favors or incurring new ones. Rather of being presented as corruption, the city’s convolutions are presented via the prism of entrenched classism and misogyny, as well as an assortment of isms that would never be discussed on a Law & Order or NCIS episode.
The series has the air of the work of a true stranger rather than an indigenous piece of representation. Or perhaps it simply feels as if it’s being constructed for outsiders? The “Delhi is packed!” technique would be familiar to anyone who has seen a locally shot film or an episode of The Amazing Race set in Delhi. Nonetheless, Mehta and cameraman Johan Huerlin Aidt’s approach to the city is hardly stereotyped. Everything in the first two episodes is centered on traffic, which is how the series conveys Delhi’s density, urgency, and central crime. Traffic serves as a conduit for exposure to Delhi’s geography, its frenetic rhythms, and the physical and metaphorical divides between people and communities.
Whether interrogating a cagey suspect, confronting a harsh authority figure, or engaging in push-and-pull with political and media personalities, everything in Delhi Crime Story seems familiar yet different. Add the visceral impact of the horrific crime the need for resolution is motivated by anger, not a mystery, and some intricate and precise variants on cell-signal tracing, CCTV monitoring, and other standard procedural beats, and you have an above-average genre exercise.
Shefali Shah as
Rasika Dugal as
Rajesh tailing as
Dr. Teena Bhutani
Adil Hussain as
Gopal Dutt as