Delhi Crime Season 2 Review: The show is just as effective in its second season as it was in its first.
Season 2 of Delhi Crime is just as good as Season 1. It’s even better in a couple of ways. Because it is more sharp. It addresses the issue of being too soft in the first season on its own. That assessing gaze is much less indulgent in the new season, directed by newcomer Tanuj Chopra. No, not all cops work for the good guys. They are not, however, infallible. It is also better because it is more compact. We don’t waste time with introductions because we know the main characters and, because we care about them, we greet them as if they were people we know.
This creation of interesting men and women in charge of law and order in rough-and-tough Delhi was one of the first season’s major strengths. It’s great to see them again. Shefali Shah as DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, who leads from the front, Rajesh Tailang as Bhupender Singh, her capable wingman, Rasika Dugal as Neeti Singh, who is quickly learning the ropes of her job, Adil Hussain as the political top cop whose moral fibre hasn’t completely frayed, and a slew of others.
Very few crimes are more heinous than the bestial gang-rape and murder of a young woman named Nirbhaya in December 2012. How will the new season compare? A lot of policing is about putting in the hours in the office, endless paperwork, avoiding bureaucratic red tape, and the drudgery of long-winded investigations that go nowhere. These day-to-day efforts keep citizens safe and criminals off the roads, but they don’t make for compelling television.
The choice to focus on a series of murders of senior citizens (based on former police commissioner Neeraj Kumar’s writings) with the specific MO of the dreaded ‘kachcha baniyan’ gang that was active in the 1990s, was the correct decision. It includes not only blood and gore but also an examination of the underlying reasons why some perfectly ordinary people turn into pitiless killers. Which is really the only reason we subject ourselves to the horrific sights of the dead, so that those of us who are still alive can be grateful for our blessings and the sheer luck of not being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Domestic distractions for hardworking cops (no sleep, little money, leave cancelled, no family life) are also better integrated this time. Vartika’s annoying young daughter has been safely sent away for further studies, so she is no longer able to cause unnecessary distractions. Neeti’s armyman husband (Akash Dahiya) is befuddled by his wife’s long work hours—he isn’t a bad guy, but he is powerless in the face of his traditional upbringing. Because of his profession, Bhupender is having difficulty finding a suitable match for his daughter. That is also true. All of the performances are excellent, particularly those of the Shah, Dugal, and Tailang trio.
Here are a few of my gripes. The “bad cop” stereotype is a little exaggerated. The harsh treatment meted out to the tribal community, whose members are rounded up on suspicion and thrown in jail, has gone on for far too long. The point of class and privilege, and the fact that certain tribes are still viewed as criminals, is worth raising, and we see one cop treating them with empathy, even if it is a little late. A cop is seen riding pillion without a helmet. Ooh. Was this done on purpose or by accident? And some of the lines the characters exchange at the dinner table, citing figures and so on, are far too detailed.
However, these are minor issues. Despite the compulsion to leave us on a cliffhanger at the end of each episode and a few contrivances, the level of authenticity is admirable. The breakthrough occurs at precisely the right moment, and the denouement is powerful. Tillotama Shome makes a memorable appearance and throws a wild curveball into the mix. She is responsible for one of the most haunting scenes in the series, in which she walks into an empty flat and looks out the window, swinging from the sill. What part of the city is she interested in? Which one? The one she came from or the one she wants to go to?