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I watched the first season of Delhi Crime during the pandemic. I was repulsed at the memory and visualization of the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case. But I was also captivated by the courage, grit and determination of the lady police officer.

Solid Cast

Shefali Shah, a prominent theater actor, portrays “Madame Sir.” Her team of committed police officers includes the quintessential Rajesh Tailang, the versatile Adil Hussain, and the unassuming Rasika Duggal. Shefali Shah as Vartika Chaturvedi does her very best to become Chhaya Sharma, the former Deputy Commissioner of Delhi police. She is strong but vulnerable. Ruthless but compassionate. Firm but tenderhearted. Full of contradictions. A complex role for an actor who loves complicated personalities.

Delhi Crime, Season 1.

Dramatization of True Crime

I could visualize the behind-the-scenes conversations between the actors, and the actual investigating team that solved the case. I thought about how much the victim’s family had suffered in face of such an inhumane travesty. I wondered how they would have given permission to Richie Mehta to make the series. Perhaps they wanted families with daughters to be aware of the dangers lurking on the streets. I decided that if they could film it, I could watch it.

I hate violence, but I am a mystery, and police-procedural buff so I watched Delhi Crime with that bent of mind. The face of Vartika Chaturvedi. Her anxious, worried eyes, her outwardly calm demeanor, her contained body language—all have stayed with me. 

So when the second season began streaming, I stopped what I was doing (going to a restaurant to eat lunch) and returned home to binge watch Delhi Crime.

Underwear Gang

The second season kicked off with a quadruple murder in gated communities of Delhi by the so called kachcha-baniyan (underwear) gangs of the ’90s. Odd and gothic! Lathered with oil and mud to obscure their identities, and escape recognition. They leave sadistic telltale signs of eating the home owners’ food. Drink their wine and create a mess in no uncertain terms.

Vartika Chaturvedi is on their heels. Deliberately sifting through each clue. Not allowing her team to slack. Committed as ever to bring the criminals to justice. Walking a tightrope between an overworked staff, and pressure from the home minister. Managing against all odds to protect the vulnerable elderly citizens in her hometown against “Delhi Crime!”

The killers are actually not offshoots of the “underwear” gang but are copycat killers. Oddly enough, and quite unlike the original gangsters that plagued Delhi in the ’90s, the new gang has a beautician! 

Explores Widening Socioeconomic Gap

This time the series explores the aftermath of the widening socioeconomic gap in Delhi and other big cities in India that is making day-to-day life unsafe. After watching it, I feel very uncomfortable about visiting salons, parlors and nail salons where you are thrown into close proximity with people from different walks of life. This direct juxtaposition can create trouble.

When we were growing up, we went to a small parlor in the neighborhood run by an aunty. She quickly trimmed our hair and shaped our brows and sent us on our way. I have been pretty weirded out on many occasions in India at hairdressers and beauty shops where people get too close to you, completely oblivious of the concept of personal space.

The series also exposes the police bias against Denotified Tribes, or DNTs. These poor people are rounded up every time anything happens because they are easy targets. For these reasons, and to watch how the stories of Rasika Duggal and Rajesh Tailang evolve, Delhi Crime Season 2 is worth a watch. It is streaming on Netflix.

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Monita Soni

Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two...