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'Delhi Crime 2' review: With you. For you. Always

Updated on: 26 August,2022 09:36 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Mayank Shekhar |

Where it scores is in the ‘feel’ and the atmospherics still. The audience’s attention will be unwavering. The experience will be rewarding, for sure

'Delhi Crime 2' review: With you. For you. Always

Shefali Shah in Delhi Crime 2

Show: Delhi Crime 2
Creator: Richie Mehta
Director: Tanuj Chopra
Actors: Shefali Shah, Rajesh Tailang, Rasika Dugal
Rating: 3.5/5

At a time when several videos of its questionable manhandling of fellow citizens have gone viral, Delhi Police — with its popular motto, ‘With You. For You. Always’ — could do with a Netflix/global franchise/series, like Delhi Crime, to bolster its battered public image.

Which is by making the point, as this second season does, that the police to public ratio for the National Capital Region is an abysmal 132 cops to every lakh of population. That makes crime fighting an incalculably draining, round-the clock job.

Also the Delhi Police, unlike all others in India, comes directly under the central government (the home minister, to be precise) — with heavyweight politicians exerting their might to fulfill their own agendas. And yet, the lead character here, a deputy commissioner of police (stunning, sorted Shefali Shah), and her immediate team (starting with the instantly likeable Rajesh Tailang), walk the talk, and do the “right thing” — as with such people one finds in all walks of life, despite the shit they face.

There is then the further challenge of citizens with a sense of entitlement that comes from living in the nation’s capital. Panic is their natural mode.

You sense all of the above, going through the five-part Delhi Crime Season Two. Characters are always on the move. There is perpetual tension in the polluted air, harrowed look on cops’ faces.

The screen is darkly lit, in a textured, shadowy sort of way — with the brilliant David Bolen’s camera peering from the back of actors, quite often, allowing audiences to feel like they’re inside those moments.

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There are, of course, two IPS officers in the team — that the younger IPS-recruit (Rasika Dugal) would address her boss, “Madam Sir” (surely true for the constabulary) is a bit perplexing.

Making this minor point, only because the show otherwise wholly relies on its authenticity. That said, I wished to see more of Duggal’s character (as with the show’s previous edition). Somehow her issues are restricted to the personal — husband/family stuff.

The series itself is centred on a serial killing case that allegedly involves one ‘kaccha baniyan’ gang, notorious in the ’90s. The only way to crack such a case, it appears, is to round up a huge number of people seen as suspects as a collective, and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Only that this type of policing — captured so convincingly through a retired, corrupt cop named Chadha Saab — inevitably causes human rights concerns. Especially when dealing with marginalised communities. As is the case here.

To be fair, it’s not like Delhi Police hasn’t been suitably represented in the past, right from 'Dil Se' (1998), down to Ivan Ayr’s solid, 'Soni' (2018). In terms of a series, the much darker, 'Paatal Lok' (2020) was a masterpiece.

Obviously the show that this one will be inevitably compared against is itself; namely, its prequel. Now Season Two exists, because Season One did. Which in turn existed, purely because of the Nirbhaya gang-rape case — a moment in India’s history that effected fresh gender-crime laws, possibly even toppled the party in power in New Delhi, two years hence.

At any rate, Richie Mehta’s Emmy-winning 'Delhi Crime' (2019) remains the best series, with universal/global appeal, to come out of India. It is, by a distance, Netflix India’s top/prestige project. And that explains how the streaming service went out of their way, hiring a massive team of writers here (one of them, Mayank Tewari; disclaimer: friend). Also, changing directors (currently credited to Tanuj Chopra). I know that they had junked 70 per cent of this season, after shoot — to shoot it all over again, in order to get it right.

A lot of people I know didn’t catch the first Delhi Crime, purely for the personal proximity/memory of the perverse subject/crime involved. Their loss. It was an absolute police-procedural, completely visceral, rather than sensationalist, in its execution — with unmatchable, first-hand research and reportage thereafter.

This one is apparently based on Delhi’s former police commissioner Neeraj Kumar’s book, Khaki Files, or actually a particular chapter, Moon Gazer, in it.

As a series, it veers more towards the ‘genre’ space — “well calculated home invasions”, strange serial killers, crime-solving, even filmic villains, on the other end. Where it scores is in the ‘feel’ and the atmospherics still. The audience’s attention will be unwavering. The experience will be rewarding, for sure.   

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