Why ‘Delhi Crime’ Season 2 Should Be Your Next Netflix Binge


When it debuted in the spring of 2019, Delhi Crime made me love Netflix all over again. The streamer was growing at a heady rate and the offerings were feeling scattershot—but the selection of international crime dramas remained solid as ever, and Delhi Crime’s seven-episode season was proof. I was dazzled by this gritty, well-observed procedural, which dramatized the aftermath of a notorious 2012 gang rape in New Delhi and introduced us to Deputy Commissioner Vartika Chaturvedi, a police heroine out of the Helen Mirren-as-Jane Tennison mold.

Truly great international dramas can still feel like needles in the Netflix haystack—I loved Borgen’s fourth season, ditto the Swedish show Snabba Cash, which is returning for a second season soon—but now you can sink into Delhi Crime’s second season, which I devoured over the past couple of days and is as good as any crime series I’ve seen this year.

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As with the first season, the draw here is moody, anxious realism: Creator Richie Mehta and director Tanuj Chopra depict Delhi as a packed, edgy metropolis teetering on the brink of disorder. There’s constant traffic (a theme from Season 1), dramatic divisions in wealth, and a stretched police force struggling to cope with it all. There’s also a good amount of raw violence in this show, and no lack of harsh language, but Delhi Crime doesn’t feel lurid or exploitative. Mehta and Chopra, who based this new season on writings by a former Delhi police commissioner, seem intent on even-handedly probing the strains of explosive growth, of a megacity bursting at its own seams.

They also know how to tell a story. Delhi Crime is fast-paced, well shot, and suspenseful as hell. In the first episode, we watch a horrific home invasion in a wealthy Delhi subdivision in which the perpetrators are masked and implacable as they pass under CCTV cameras. DCP Vartika is called in to find the criminals, and the actress Shefali Shah (tremendous in the role) seizes your attention. She’s intensely serious; fearsome to her subordinates, who call her “Madam Sir”; and clearly burdened by her job. She has to keep the news of the home-invasion murders from leaking to the press (which immediately happens anyway) and drive her team to find the perpetrators before they strike again (which they soon do).

The procedural beats are familiar: there is a corrupt detective, a red herring plotline involving denotified tribe communities—an underclass in Delhi—and bureaucratic pressure from the top to wrap things up neatly (if unjustly). But the characters and details keep you invested. I especially love the small grace notes, keenly observed, like the fact that suspects are detained and held by hand in Delhi—not much use of handcuffs apparently—which leads to suspects escaping custody. And Vartika’s subordinates are appealingly human, with personal backstories that get gentle play, exuding a formal dignity that makes you root for them.



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