Netflix Original ‘Delhi Crime’ TV Review – Brutally Real

Published by Shah Shahid on

Delhi Crime is based on the real-life gang rape that happened in the Indian city of Delhi back in 2012. Dubbed the ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless) case, it was a crime that rattled the world through its highly graphic nature and brutality. The crime’s worldwide exposure caused many eyes to turn towards India and their treatment of women. Not to mention the investigation and prosecuting of sex crimes. Delhi Crime attempts to document all of the things surrounding that crime, but in a way that is painfully mundane.

Netflix’s newest original Indian series, Delhi Crime, adapts a horrific real-life crime. It does it with a nuanced depiction, and very real performances. 

A young woman is sexually attacked and brutalized. Her male friend assaulted on a public bus and left for dead. The local police department has to spring into action to resolve the crime. The clock is ticking for the authorities, while the woman is fighting for her life. And public support is swiftly turning against them. 

The series created by Richie Mehta (Amal, Siddharth), Laurence Bowen and Toby Bruce (The New Pope), can almost be described as a dramatic re-telling, given how close to the reality of the situation the story stays. The biggest debate of most real-life adaptations is how much liberty is in the story, characters, and sequence of events. However, Delhi Crime almost seems to take no liberties, given its pacing and, at times, lack of conventional ‘things happening’. Something that most true crime stories rely on to keep the audience engaged.

The show is immensely slow, but that’s not a criticism. The slow burn nature reflects the painstaking methods available to the police officers in solving a crime. Ways where they are working against the clock and very much rushed. And yes, Delhi Crime is entirely from the perspective of the police officers. But before you roll your eyes about another cop-drama, the show differs itself from the kinds of ‘police drama’ from India that we’re used to. 

Delhi Crime is told entirely from the perspective of the police officers.

Shefali Shah in ‘Delhi Crime’.

Mehta take careful effort to completely subvert the hero-cop trope within the Indian and Bollywood industries. There is no machismo here, nor is there any nationalistic bravado; only reality which can go from heartbreaking to enraging to just plain boring at the drop of a hat.

DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah, no relation) is the one overseeing the case. She has to navigate the passion, apathy, cynicism and idealistic views of the variety of officers under her command. She has to do this while also dealing with political pressure and her own personal life. Along for the ride is her trusted colleague Inspector Bhupendra Singh (Rajesh Tailang) who is an experienced officer who follows Vartika’s example.

The series sees a very procedural format of unfolding over the course of 6 days. So the police officers need to track down, arrest and present the suspects in front of a court. Delhi Crime has enough subplots to reel the audiences in and make them care about the lives of these characters. Such as Vartika trying to keep her daughter in the country by proving the city is safe for women. Despite that, the show is still able to maintain focus on its main story. Like a laser!

The cast of Delhi Crime is extensive and just as talented.

Shefali Shah in ‘Delhi Crime’.

Similarly, despite the issues that resulted in the crime itself, the series doesn’t lose itself in philosophical depictions. It doesn’t debate or portray the issues beyond what is in the scope for the police themselves. A lesser show might have gone down the rabbit hole of rape-culture. Showcasing with various characters’ perspectives, moral responsibilities of the government, etc. Delhi Crime limits itself to being what it is, without taking away from the main story.

The cast of Delhi Crime is extensive and just as talented. While Shah leads the charge and is always amazing, Tailang further cements himself as a recognizable character actor. Adil Hussein impresses with another role that is effective in a breif capacity. The break out of Delhi Crime is Rasika Duggal. After many appearances in streaming shows like Mirzapur and Made In Heaven,  she plays a more significant role here.

The show is incredibly realistic and brutal at times in subject matter.

One of Delhi Crime’s biggest achievements is the way it veers away from any graphic content on the screen, despite the graphic nature of the crime itself. Mehta realizes that the real-life case is disturbing enough, and recounting those events for a mass audience is uncomfortable enough, that nothing graphic needs appear on screen. And it’s a smart move, given I don’t know how much even I could’ve taken, if it had resorted to that. 

Delhi Crime is incredibly realistic in depicting the excruciatingly repetitive and tedious ways in which the police of India investigate their crimes. The series shows the police in a very sympathetic light. And while that’s maybe not the reality of India, it’s a refreshing change than the usual tropes of either villainously corrupt or over the top nationalistic that we usually get. 

Delhi Crime will not be for everyone given its close-to-home subject matter and basis in real-life events, as well as slow pacing. However, the show is incredibly engaging, riveting in moments and captures your attention for the majority of the duration.

Delhi Crime is now streaming on Netflix.


Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad

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