‘Delhi Crime 2’: societal climate’s change for the worse

Floods. Drought. Unseasonal weather occurrences. Mass-scale misery. An apocalyptic climate has descended upon us in a swift advancement of Nature’s plans. But there’s another rumbling of tectonic plates that we’d do well to pay heed to. One that the gritty as Delhi’s dust Titliwarned us back in 2015. That disaffected, dissonant theme is back to haunt DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah) and her dogged team in season 2 of Delhi Crime. Opening to a breathless episode of a gruesome murder of elderly, well-to-do couples in South Delhi, director Tanuj Chopra ups the pace as the murders replicate across posh localities, flinging coats of blood inside manicured homes, the sense of security and upper hand that money radiates suddenly bludgeoned by a gang whose modus operandi disturbingly follows that of the kachcha baniyan (underwear-vest) gang in the 90s in Delhi. Is the gang, known for slithering away in the dead of the night post evacuating money and life from affluent homes, back?

As Vartika and her team grapple with the mounting bodies and bad press, the series grows ragged, as if worn out by the rumble and tumble of seemingly incontrollable societal climate changes. Wrought and brought on by an increasingly distinct line of comfort versus needles, affluence versus monied mirages, living the dream versus pursuing dreams at any cost, this season questions our failing as a society—the cleaving of the haves and have-nots now layered by the wants and want-nows, even as we’re quick to finger a specific community or caste for criminal behavior, ratcheting up the disaffection, muddying the pool of civil behavior and justification for criminal outings. 

Anurag Arora, Rajesh Tailang: knock on wood.

But there’s a price even keepers of the law pay, and this season, like its predecessor, pauses to ruminate and empathize with its team. If Vartika fights to make sense of her daughter (Chandni, played by Yashaswini Dayama) studying abroad and trying to find a connection, Neeti Singh (Rasika Dugal), now an ACP, is drained exponentially with every episode as she looks for an increasingly elusive equilibrium with her on-leave army husband Devinder (Aakash Dahiya) who scoffs at police work as something that’s a conduit for work-life balance for women—why can’t Neeti take off? Aren’t there others in the department who can solve this case? There’s the weary Inspector Bhupendra Singh (Rajesh Tailang), who seems to have burnt the bridge with his daughter even before he built it. And Vartika is straining to steer her right-versus-wrong compass even as she’s pushed in the wrong direction by her boss (Adil Hussain in a suave, telephonic cameo).

Rasika Dugal: the conflicts of marital-dom.

But equally worrying is the gang of four marauders who represent the ‘easy money’ route to repay loans or bankroll their ambitions. Leading this pack are Bablu—played by Jatin Goswami, menacing and cold until Karishma, his gang mate and lover, ups her latrodectic sting. Tillotama Shome’s scintillatingly sharp performance cuts through the scenes with the blade of ruthless focus. As always, the rest of the cast bites and chews in equal measure. Kuldeep Sareen, as the retired, prejudiced, jaundiced, and corrupt Chaddha, who’s brought in as a consultant of sorts, leads the team to a ‘denotified tribal community’ living in a rotting slum area, is tops. Anurag Arora, reprising his role as the laconic but empathetic SI Jairaj is fabulous, as is Sidharth Bharadwaj as SHO Subhash Gupta: the actor doesn’t speak much but communicates volumes. Rajesh Tailang is terrific, his act a combination of worldly wisdom and familial weariness; as is Rasika Dugal in a performance of Magdeburg hemispheres, one half covering the marital pull, the other the force of duty. All that’s between them is her Neeti in a vacuum. Ali Mondal, as one of Chaddha’s targets, is frighteningly good, while Gopal Datt quietly shines as cop Sudhir in a kindly act.

Writers Richie Mehta, Virat Basoya, Bhavesh Mandalia, Ensia Mirza, Mayank Tewari, Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh, Shubhra Swarup, and Vidit Tripathi capture the essence of a civil society simmering in a cauldron of uneasy grudge of inequality and bias, while Ceiri Torjussen‘s background score thumps this conflict to a disturbing pitch in gloomy, smoky frames that cinematographer David Bolen creates. 

Shefali Shah: the troubled headliner.

The fantastic Shefali Shah, headlining the series, is a force of marvel. The actor packs in an intense and powerful keg of emotions that never quite explodes, except in one scene where her Vartika, like all of us humans, misdirects her ammunition in the wrong, unintended lane. There’s just the matter of a conversation between Vartika and her daughter that quite limps away when the latter weasels away from her own shortcomings and pivots to a pick-me-up for her mother. That seemed quite forced and weak, but when parents work under pressure, the attention deficit is the baggage (or advantage) that children carry. 

That deficit is something director Tanuj Chopra ensures you never have through the 5 episodes. And you realize just how invested you are in the team when one of them discovers blood seeping through their jacket in a face-off gone awry. The blood drains from your face, too, for without them, who’s to keep us safe in our gated, comfortable abodes?

Movie data powered by IMDb. All images owned by the producers. Delhi Crime 2 is streaming on Netflix and rated A (Adults only) for violence, language, and disturbing scenes. 

Delhi Crime 2 
Director Tanuj Chopra Time 36-64 minutes
Writers Richie Mehta, Virat Basoya, Bhavesh Mandalia, Ensia Mirza, Mayank Tewari, Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh, Shubhra SwarupVidit Tripathi 
Stars Shefali Shah, Rajesh Tailang, Rasika Dugal, Anurag Arora, Sidharth Bharadwaj, Tillotama Shome
Genres Crime, Drama