To call Delhi Crime 2 a tour de police force would be an understatement. This time, like the last time, the series grips us by our jowls and refuses to let go.
Delhi Crime’s season 2 is every bit the riveting masterpiece you hoped it’d be
It is very difficult to enumerate the USPs of Netflix’s Delhi Crime’s eagerly awaited second season. The first part of the series in 2019 which focused on the Nirbhaya rape case was so diligently pieced together, it felt like a work of art masquerading as a true-life documentary. Every actor, almost every episode, was uniformly brilliant in Season One.
The same is true of Season 2, though this time the series is left more to its own devices. It is not based on a high-profile case that shook the nation. Rather it is based on a chapter entitled ‘Moon Gazer’ from a true-crime anthology entitled Khaki Files authored by a retired police officer Neeraj Kumar.
This season of Delhi Crime is as riveting as the first, if not more. The mood of gentle but unmistakable foreboding is smeared all across the episodes making the police procedural practically professional yet unmistakably warm and personal. The team of cops in Delhi Crime, overworked underpaid worried and sleepless, are all played with an easy fluid effortlessness.
Captaining the team is DCP Vartika Chaturvedi played with exceptional confidence by Shefali Shah who owns the part. I dare anyone else to step into her uniform, let alone her implosive experiences as a woman professional who must stop the hate-crime wave that grips Delhi after an elderly couple is butchered to death in their sleep.
The beginning is so ensnaring in design, we are hooked from the first episode, nay first shot to the last. In the fourth episode, the identity of the killers is revealed. One would think that the series would lose its hard-earned momentum once we know who the killers are. But every turning point in the plot breeds a whole new phase of engagingness.
To call Delhi Crime 2 a tour de police force would be an understatement. This time, like the last time, the series grips us by our jowls and refuses to let go. Director Tanuj Chopra, commendably in-charge while taking over the directorial reins from Richie Mehta in the first season, leaves no room for digressive discourse. With an arrow-like directness, the narrative shoots into the darkness to find answers to questions that are near impossible to answer. What makes a man or woman act with such deplorable depravity against their own kind?
A word on the invisible hero of the show. Cinematographer David Bolen imbues every frame with relevance beyond the immediate. Normally night shots on the small screen reveal very little. In Delhi Crime 2 a lot of scenes are shot at the night. Bolen allows us to gaze unflinchingly at every twitch in the dark.
Standing tall undefeated at the centre of the violent chaos of a tribal-styled serial-killing spree, Vartika Chaturvedi won’t stop trying to get to the bottom of the crime grime even if it means forfeiting her family time. One gets the feeling she is more attached to her team at work than her home.Her sporadic domestic talk with her very worried junior, Bhupendra Singh (Rajesh Tailang, excellent) shows the slightly more special bond she shares with him.
Not that she is not protective about the rest of her team. There is a very strong maternal layer in Vartika’s personality; Shefali nails it. What an incredibly controlled performance. Even a simplistic line like, “They are being falsely implicated because they are underprivileged” is put across with a hammer-like force by Shefali Shah. She is a force of nature, and indispensable to this serial’s uniformed universe.
Rasika Dugal as Vartika’s subordinate is not far behind. She gets maximum home time this season. Her ongoing war of will with her somewhat loutish but well-meaning husband (enacted with admirable dignity by Akash Dahiya) is powerfully projected as a reflection of the sacrifices cops make to make the city safe.
A word on Tillotama Shome . She is chilling as a cold-blooded killer. Brutal and not the least apologetic about her lack of sensitivity. She wants the good things of life. You simply have to see her closing conversation with Shefali Shah in a police jeep. It will leave you with goosebumps until the next season of Delhi Crime.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.