“Stop Rape. Stop crimes against women. Hang the rapists.” Slogans each one of us has said and heard in the past few years. The December 16, 2012 gang rape changed Delhi from being the nation’s capital to being the rape capital. It turned India Gate into a battleground where people gathered for the Nirbhaya movement, demanding action, explanation and justice.
The Netflix original series Delhi Crime, written and directed by Richie Mehta, is a seven-part show in the manner of a police procedural, starring Shefali Shah, Rasika Dugal, Rajesh Tailang, and Adil Hussain in pivotal roles. 'Inspired by case files', it reveals the aftermath of the brutal gang rape that till now wasn’t looked into. Given the widespread coverage and documentaries made about the incident, everyone knew the victim, her parents, the offenders, and the outrage, but this Netflix series focuses on an untapped angle: the police investigating the case.
After four years of research and writing, the director said he came up with a 170-page bible followed by 430-page script, wherein he had explored the perspective of "the people who were in the front lines".
The first episode opens with an injured couple naked and unconscious huddled by the roadside on a cold night. As they are rushed to the hospital, the female victim, Deepika reveals the gruesome details of being attacked by six men in a moving bus and being raped. The episodes don’t go into the visual detailing of the act, but as Deepika mentions iron rod, bite marks, pulling of her intestines, it is enough to make the viewer’s feel the agony she feels. “She was crying, but her voice reached nobody,” says Akash in one of the episodes, the other victim who was attacked and beaten up by the culprits.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah) takes charge of the case. Chaturvedi’s character is inspired by Chhaya Sharma, the DCP of South Delhi in 2012 who along with her team nabbed all the six offenders in five days. The show narrates the incidents from the view of the policemen juxtaposed with the struggles and limitations in their personal and professional lives. Delving into the back-stories of the officers who are shown to be under staffed and overworked, the series seems sympathetic towards them. However, it doesn't shy away from showing their lackadaisical attitude in handling the case. The forensics, logical obstacles, cross-border chases and the challenges of doing everything by the book and controlling the urge to beat up the culprits, given the nature of the crime, makes the series even more compelling.
As a viewer, it is impossible not to be infuriated by the comments of the prime suspect Jai Singh as he describes the gory details of his act with a straight face, without hesitation and no trace of guilt. “I wanted to tear her apart from the inside,” he tells the police after he describes how he pulled the victim's intestines out with his bare hands.
Shah does justice to her role - the perfect blend of fire and ice. Rasika Duggal, Rajesh Tailang, Adil Hussain, Anurag Arora were convincing in their roles.
Delhi Crime has enough to keep one hooked till the end but is certainly not an easy watch. Nirbhaya succumbed to her injuries 13 days after her assault. This case triggered a cry for stricter rape laws in the country including death penalty for offenders, fast-track courts; one-stop rape counselling centres.
Though over the years Delhi has learned to look away, every year on December 16th and every time a rape is reported here, the city is forced to look in the mirror. And Delhi Crime is just a reminder of what's reported from the city "almost" daily.