Trigger warning: The article contains mentions of gender-based violence.
The International Emmy-winning crime thriller series Delhi Crime premiered its season 2 on August 26. The Netflix original revolves around the murders committed against wealthy senior citizens of the Capital. With an angle around the so-named Kaccha Baniyan Gang that was active in the 90s to bring out the dichotomy that the city is built over, the series tries hard to touch every aspect of the underbelly of Delhi.
The series claims that it is a mix of true and fictional events. The portrayal, the cinematography, and the direction that smartly uses the architecture of Delhi are seamless. Delhi seems to sing its story itself. From clever shots of aesthetic migratory birds flocking together to the eroding slums of Delhi that house migrated citizens, it is a series worth watching.
The so-named Kaccha Baniyan Gang was active in the Capital in the 90s. It was a notorious group of 5-10 members who would lather themselves in oil and commit gruesome crimes clad in their underwear as a uniform. They would rob, rape, assault, and murder their victims with the most primitive weapons. The criminal group in the series uses their modus operandi but is not the same. More than half the series has been spent trying to forge a connection but the truth, as they say, is always stranger than fiction.
The Denotified Tribe in the series is a historically marginalised section of India. The British had rendered them all criminals, and it took the free nation some years to free them from this stigma. Now, although they are denotified, the system still sees them with a bias. This bias has been carefully brought out in the series through the role of the lawyer who shed his name to make a career.
After spending considerable time in their lives and homes, the makers make us confront the bigotry we have all been living with. Although still involved in petty crimes, the tribe turns out innocent. The only criminal in the entire scenario is the police force trying to procure a bribe and then set them up as murderers.
Delhi Crime is a series drawn on the aftermath of a crime and depicts the police process that goes behind solving it. The policy process is not devoid of their personal lives. Neeti (Rasika Duggal), for example, promoted after the last season, tries to balance her marriage and work. She does not get the respect she deserves from her husband and in-laws. The lack of personal support costs her professionally.
The belief that a man’s work is holier than a woman’s job and she is celebrated only if she can manage the house well is subtly dealt with. Vartika’s (Shefali Shah) personal life is touched but not dived into. Her glass ceilings are left intact. Bhupinder (Rajesh Tailang) secretly makes a matrimonial account for his daughter, explaining how daughters are still not understood by their fathers. The building up of these lives is a preface to what is to follow.
While the world blamed a tribe and almost pinned them as murderers, a woman is an actual culprit. Lata Solanki (Tillotama Shome) or Lata Kumari or Karishma is a beautician who wants all the good things, and she wants them now. She aspires to live the other life, the better life, and her introduction to the Greater Kailash world turns her aspiration into an obsession.
Lata is shown as a cruel, gruesome, and psychologically challenged serial killer who is on a mission to build her own beauty parlour. She climbs the GK property in cheap high heels, almost stumbling. She wears cheetah prints during the day and robs wearing the so-named Kaccha Baniyan at night. She is a metaphor for every aspirant who wants good things fast. But her arrest and her portrayal leave the audience with more questions than answers.
Lata is a mother who never wanted a child. She is a wife who wants bigger things in life. She is a migrant, but she wants to own the “rich Delhi life”. Lata draws a line in the sand between the haves and have-nots. While the makers try to showcase the reality of Delhi through her character, they fail to give her a full feeling. She appears as an incomplete drawing made from a patriarch’s pen.
The series ends with multiple questions about its women—the dreamer Lata who could kill for her aspirations, the polite Neeti, who could not do enough to please her in-laws; and the courageous Vartika, who fights against the system but looks perplexed throughout. The women of Delhi Crime show how the women of Delhi are marginalised. It is worse for the majority who are doubly marginalised, triply marginalised and used by the system many times over. The show tries to showcase all these aspects, but after three episodes, it appears like it is in a hurry and leaves many ends open and hurting.
Featured image source: IndieWire