If Delhi Crime, an
Indian TV show on Netflix, were American or British, it would be called a
standard procedural. But a few things make it more compelling than that. First,
the crime in question is a shockingly brutal gang rape of a young woman that is
based on an actual crime that happened in Delhi in 2012. Referred to as the
Nirbhaya case, the rape caused riots throughout India and drew international
outrage, leading to changes in Indian law that provide faster investigation and
prosecution against sex offenders.
Second, watching a procedural set in Delhi is eye-opening.
The show follows the Delhi police as they solve the case and apprehend the 6
suspects in a record 5 days. I say “record” because the police in Delhi
regularly deal with snarled traffic, power outages during interviews at the
station, a shortage of vehicles available for inspectors to get to the crime
scene, an utter lack of funding and more. It’s like watching police solve
crimes with both hands tied behind their backs, which makes you respect the
team that much more when they succeed.
Getting an inside look at Indian culture is fascinating,
too. Through the course of the show, we see several strata of lifestyles, from
upper middle class to the basest of slums.
The life of a policeman is tough. They work all the time, sometimes
going home only two times a month. There is no extra pay for long hours, and
worst of all, it is not considered an honorable profession. There is a
revealing scene where one of the inspectors avoids telling his future in-laws
what he does because they would not let the marriage occur if they knew. And
yes, arranged marriage is still alive and well.
The show itself is really well done. Creator Richie Mehta researched
every aspect of the case with the Delhi police for 6 years so he could get the
details right. The production value is high, and the acting is fantastic.
Particularly outstanding are Shefali
Shah as Vartika Chaturvedi, the Deputy Commissioner of Police
who takes it upon herself to lead the case, and Rajesh Tailang as the mild mannered yet determined
inspector Bhupendra Singh, who is DCP Chaturvedi’s trusted confidant. Mehta
made the thoughtful decision not to show the rape, instead focusing on the
police’s point of view of the case.
I highly recommend the show. The procedural format is
comfortable for American audiences. The first episode is grim, and hard to
enjoy, but once the police get started on the investigation, the shock lifts a
little. One of the reasons I love foreign crime TV is learning about another
culture, and Delhi Crime does not