“This crime is not just heinous. It’s insanity.” These were the words uttered within the first 30 seconds of the trailer for Netflix’s latest in a string of true-crime series – ‘Delhi Crime’. Based on harrowing true events, Delhi Crime follows a real-life investigation told through the perspective of the police – one which took an emotional toll on their quest to honour the victim and bring justice to those responsible.
What is Delhi Crime about?
It was a news story that sparked international outrage: the violent gang rape and assault of a young Indian woman, which later turned fatal. On the night of 16 December, 2012, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh went to see a movie with a young male friend. After the movie, the pair got on an off-duty bus at approximately 9:30pm – and already on board were six men; five adults and a juvenile.
The male friend became suspicious when the bus driver deviated from its regular route – before he was beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious with an iron rod. Jyoti was dragged to the back of the bus and brutally raped, suffering injuries that proved to be fatal, as she died 11 days later.
Such a catastrophic event was followed by an outpour of anger, fear and distress throughout India, and especially Delhi. Throughout this chaos, the Delhi police had to remain level-headed to solve the case under the scrutiny of the public eye – and that remains the core of Delhi Crime. The show is based on the real case files, and follows the determined Deputy Commissioner of Police and her team as they work to locate and arrest the culprits.
Creating Delhi Crime
The show was written and directed by Richie Mehta, who conceived the idea during a conversation with the former commissioner of the Delhi police, Neeraj Jumar. He introduced Mehta to the team who worked on the case and provided him access to legal documents in the investigation. After six years of intense research which saw Canadian-born Mehta travel to and from Delhi, the show was created and shot in Delhi in just 62 days.
“The making of Delhi Crime has been a personally transformative journey; speaking to every individual involved, retracing the paths that the police took during the course of the investigation, and hearing of the determination that it took for the case to be closed, despite severe limitations,” Mehta told Deadline.
The first two episodes of Delhi Crime were premiered at the 2019 Sundance film festival, and the series was consequently picked up by Netflix.
“Nirbhaya” and her impact on women’s rights
Delhi Crime is hard to stomach, but opens up a difficult conversation that needs to be had. When the incident occurred, there was public uproar in India like never before in regards to the lack of safety measures put in place for women. Mehta himself even said that he was in Delhi when the crime was committed and witnessed firsthand the demonstrations calling for an improvement of women’s rights.
Before Jyoti Singh’s name was released, she was simply known as “Nirbhaya”, which in Hindi means “the fearless one”. Her case drove unprecedented anger in India, and eventually led to the start of rape laws being changed in the country. “Shows like this bring a much-needed lens to the lived reality of women around the world,” said Simran Sethi, Director of International Originals on Netflix, to Vogue.
The entire seven-episode series is available on Netflix Australia from March 22.
Photo credit: Sundance Institute