Delhi Crime Web Series Review: A tense and heartrending portrayal

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Richie Mehta has done a marvellous job to depict a brutal incident in an engrossing way.

It’s not even a “heinous” crime. It’s “insanity”. An apt way of putting things into perspective by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah). She is heading a criminal investigation to find out the 6 men who raped a woman on a moving bus. Delhi Crime, Netflix’s web series, directed by Richie Mehta, is an unsettling portrayal based on a real incident that shook the whole world. It was not only the gangrape that called for immediate investigation and protests in India’s capital city. The insane manner with which she was tortured was much more painful to even imagine (the details of which I am in no mood for reiterating as I am already in shock after watching this series and it’s going to be days before I can actually start thinking that I can get by in this cruel world).

The series not only takes potshots at the lack of alertness on the part of some of the police officers, which many argue is the major cause of crimes taking place, it also brings into purview how some of the honest cops put in their heart and soul into the investigation process. Vartika finds out that a male police officer is high on weed while on duty at a checkpoint on the road and replaces him with a female officer Neeti Singh (played brilliantly by a believable and empathetic Rasika Dugal). Neeti goes on to restrain a vehicle doing an illegal ivory trade. Vartika makes a good point that this is the reason why more women police officers are needed. That does not mean that there aren’t any good male cops around. A police constable, involved in this investigation, has no time to buy medicine for his wife. Another police officer readily accepts the order to travel a long way for capturing one of the rapists as his whereabouts come to light but the officer expresses his tiredness as he sighs wearily. Another cop, whose wife has come to police station carrying a lunchbox out of concern, has no time to eat food, let alone eating along with her. Even Inspector Bhupendra Singh (Rajesh Tailang), who is closely working with Vartika, has back pain but keeps going to help fast-track the investigation (Bhupendra’s respect for Vartika and the understanding between them is exhibited with perfection).

You feel the indignation rising inside you when one of the prime suspects gets caught and he, after tense interrogation, confesses that he committed this crime and adds that he has no regrets on doing so. But you also see that these rapists do have fear of their family. They try to commit suicide inside the prison fearing what would their family do when they get to know about their son being involved in this crime. One guy, apprehended by the police, tries to swim across a pond in order to get away from the police officers after being caught. But, when the police officer yells at him saying that what he did on that bus would be told to his mother, he stops right there, says that he will cooperate in this case and pleads to them not to reveal any of this to his mother. It is strange to see that someone, who loves his mother so dearly and does not want her to know about his stupid act, can go on to do horrible things to another woman.

One of the most impactful scenes is the one where the victim comes to her senses in the hospital and agrees to narrate the whole story for official records. She went through something so disastrous and inhuman. So, when she, with what strength she can gather, speaks with a low volume and tells everything to an official person (who is, again, a woman), it starts upsetting you. This official person, somehow, writes down the complete story controlling all her emotions.

It is agonising to even watch something terrible like this happening to a woman. Andrew Lockington’s music enhances the intensity with which the series proceeds and Richie Mehta has done a marvellous job to depict this brutal incident in an engrossing way.

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Hamid Movie Review: Amidst the innocence, there is a harsh reality!

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Aijaz Khan’s Hamid is a film that brings the climate of fear to the forefront that is prevailing in the Kashmir and highlights the air of uncertainty in the lives of Kashmiris by portraying their loss and separation.

The film begins with a close-up shot of a wooden piece being sliced and smoothened. This is a scene inside a carpentry workshop that builds boats. Rehmat (Sumit Kaul), who works here, calls it a day and heads for home on his bicycle. On his way back home, he fearfully stops his bicycle at a distance when he looks at the security forces. On being called by them, he takes gentle steps towards them. He is asked to show his identity card and explain what’s inside his toolbox. Their eyes also fall on his diary and they ask him to read whatever’s written inside it. Rehmat reveals that he is good at “shayari” (poetry) and writes his own verses. The few verses that Rehmat goes on to read from his diary include words like “bawaal” (chaos) and “bechaini” (restlessness). Unable to deduce what he just recited, they suspect him to be a terrorist. Rehmat clarifies that this poetry is talking about how restless and chaotic his heart feels in the times of sufferings. Aijaz Khan’s Hamid is a film that brings the climate of fear to the forefront that is prevailing in the Kashmir and highlights the air of uncertainty in the lives of Kashmiris by portraying their loss and separation.

Hamid, which is an adaptation of the play Phone No 786, delves into the problematic situation in Kashmir by closely following Rehmat’s sudden disappearance and the effect that it has on his family. Rehmat is the father of Hamid (Talha Arshad Reshi is so lovely in this character). The movie explores how Hamid and his mother Ishrat (Rasika Dugal) go about searching for Rehmat in their own ways (if at all there is small hope of him coming back into their lives).

Innocence, humour and reality-check come to the fore through Hamid’s quest for knowing whereabouts of his father. He gets to know the importance of the number ‘786’ in Islam. Somehow, his innocuous trials of calling Allah using ‘786’, in the hope of seeking His help in finding his father, lead him into calling Abhay (Vikas Kumar) who happens to be a part of armed forces stationed in Kashmir. Their interactions on phone were not only funny but also showed how children like Hamid are oblivious of the gravity of the situation in Kashmir.

Rasika Dugal’s magnificent performance, albeit for a brief period, brought out the feeling of despondency in the character of Ishrat. She goes to the police station in vain. She is not able to talk to her son with compassion and does not even know Hamid is waving her goodbye while sitting inside his school bus. She unravels the sweater that she so lovingly knitted for her husband before his disappearance. She couldn’t stop crying while taking part in a sit-in. Such was the trauma and agony attached to her character that I wished she had more screen presence.

The film also depicts the ground reality in Kashmir through the people, the armed forces and the child. It is not trying to uncover what’s right and what’s wrong. Instead, it tries to show what’s really happening in Kashmir and does not shy away from doing so. There’s a guy spraying on road writing ‘anti-Indian’ message. A young guy pelts stone at an armed officer before getting caught and peeing his pants out of fear. A throng of people is holding placards and chanting “azaadi” (freedom) while an officer gets into a fight with one of them. The people are frightened by merely the sight of an armed officer (Abhay goes near a woman to know if she is Ishrat and help her in any way but the woman fearfully keeps her head down). Abhay, in a scene, reveals that he did not know the presence of a child when he went about killing terrorists in an operation and feels tired of being stuck here. Even during the phone conversation, when Abhay reveals who he really is, the first utterance that comes out of Hamid, a young eight-year-old boy, is “dushman” (enemy).

The limited nature of happier times that were shown in the movie can make one wish that more of such joyous times prevails in this beautiful part of the world. The brief display of father-son relationship, when Rehmat takes Hamid on his bicycle to school with both singing a Kashmiri song, is so beautiful that you want them to be like this forever. And as the movie comes to a close, Hamid takes his mother out on a boat. Seeing their smiling faces, one can think that they have moved on. But the pain of loss will linger in their hearts forever.