'Delhi Crime 2' review: Crimes of class conflicts
The new season of the show keeps the audience on the edge with its probe into the serial killings of senior citizens and continues to humanise the now familiar good cops of Delhi’s police force
Delhi Crime 2 doesn’t believe in wasting time. The second season of the popular Netflix series, with Tanuj Chopra as the showrunner and the director, comes straight to the point with the opening monologue/voiceover of DCP South Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah) about the yawning gap between the elite and the marginalised, the lifestyle of the rich and the dreams and aspirations of the poor and how crime breeds when the two worlds collide. The series is just as nimble in portraying the consequent transgression and more that are to follow. There is butchering and blood as the presumably re-energised kachha-baniyan gang of the 90s goes about slaughtering the loaded but vulnerable senior citizens of the Capital’s gated communities.
The crimes are squarely and firmly located in the class divides that are quintessentially Delhi, but the telling has a more universal reach. Delhi Crime 2 is sharp and smart, like the police procedurals seen in the Western serials. The episodes propel with terseness, at a brisk pace, never resorting to dramatic flourishes or emotional indulgences. A crime drama where less is more, that uses a little to communicate a lot.
When it comes to the killings themselves, it’s the horror that reaches out than the gratuitousness, more so because the insanity and barbarism evident at the scene of crime shocks the on-screen cops themselves as much as the viewers. They have never witnessed something like this. Neither have we. And the camera knows what to show and when to stop.
It's comforting to get to meet the now familiar team who conduct themselves impeccably, be it handling an innocent child and victims’ distraught relatives at the scene of crime or apprehending the culprits. But what makes the second season (written by Mayank Tewari, Shubhra Swarup, Ensia Mirza with Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh and Virat Basoya credited for dialogues) more interesting than the first (often accused of overly sympathetic portrayal of the police) is the admission of corruption amongst the Capital’s “thullas” (Delhi slang for policemen). There is a sequence at the very start that made me fear that this season, like its predecessor, will also turn out to be about the cops not doing anything wrong with Vartika and her husband (Denzil Smith) discussing Delhi Police being underpaid, overworked and under-staffed (138 cops to a lakh of people) with limited budget at its disposal. However, as the episodes unfold, we find that even if her trusted team is above board, the entire department is not portrayed as such. How did a retired SHO Chaddha (Kuldeep Sareen) find the wherewithal to build palatial farmhouses, becomes a source of gossip and speculation in the force itself.
The gaze, as before, might be of the policemen handling the case, but Chaddha, brought back from retirement for his know how of the tribal offenders becomes a fulcrum of a larger moral debate on the denotified tribes and our continuing prejudices against them. Why should we still look at them as “born criminals”? Why does our suspicion fall on them for the crimes big and small? Why does bigotry like Chaddha’s flourish among us? And does it not fan the social inequities and brutalities even further? It makes you pause and thin
What tug at the heartstrings are the little, and some elaborate, connections with the dramatis personae which carry on from where we left them in the previous season. Like Inspector Bhupendra Singh’s (Rajesh Tailang) continued search for a suitable boy for his daughter. Vartika’s daughter (Yashaswini Dayama ) may have moved to Toronto for further studies but is just as rebellious. The fresh IPS recruit Neeti Singh (Rasika Dugal) of the first season is still swinging between the tentative and the firm, but the love she discovered in the first season is not coasting along as well now. The demands of marriage and domesticity are suffocating her and coming in the line of duty. Women are at the core of the second season like the first but elaborating on this any further could lead to a big spoiler.
Adil Hussain as Vartika’s senior and Anurag Arora, Sidharth Bhardwaj, Gopal Dutt as her crack team fit their parts ably. Shefali herself aces it again as the strong and authoritarian yet tactful and caring team leader. Her performance draws as much from her presence, gait, demeanour as much as the quicksilver expressions. Tailang nails it once more as her trusted lieutenant, controlled and measured. Dugal lives her character from within, her internal conflicts of mind and heart, like Tailang’s, play off well against Shefali’s more outwards, physical, forceful act. But do watch out for the new entrants this season, Jatin Goswami fresh from his impressive act in The Great Indian Murder and Tillotama Shome, an actress who has never quite put a foot wrong. She owns it here as well.