Richie Mehta, a Canada-based film director, has begun addressing the systemic issue of sexual assault and rape in India through a new Netflix mini-series entitled “Delhi Crime.”
Based on the infamous 2012 gang-rape case involving 23 year-old survivor Jyoti Singh, “Delhi Crime” highlights the major cultural issues associated with violence toward women in India. Mehta states that during a separate film project in India, he came into contact with Neeraj Kumar, who was the former Commissioner of Delhi Police. It was Kumar that suggested to Mehta that he make a film on the 2012 case, which has captured the world’s attention.
Discover the story behind the crime that changed the nation. Delhi Crime is now streaming only on Netflix. pic.twitter.com/NrHvXSDIYn
— Netflix India (@NetflixIndia) March 22, 2019
In the mini series, Mehta exposes Delhi’s police force as being undertrained, underfunded and corrupt as officers became the focus of activist groups immediately after the incident occurred. Mehta also portrays the daily problems that fall out of police officers’ control. He stated in an interview with The Guardian that officers “don’t get to see their families for weeks at a time during an investigation” and that officers lack the access to vehicles necessary to travel to the crime scene.
Mehta acknowledges the limits to the factual basis of the story by bringing this story to the mainstream audience and stating that “tiny details” of the crime scene were altered for dramatic effect.
By partnering with a platform as wide-reaching as Netflix, the film has the potential to educate the Indian community as well as the broader global community on the danger and injustice women face in India.
One real character depicted in the series is Vartika Chaturvedi, a deputy police officer. Chaturvedi is tasked with overseeing the investigation into the Jyoti gang-rape case. Chaturvedi’s daughter is shown to experience sexual harassment in multiple public settings, which she tries to bring to her parents’ attention.
As a young woman who is looking to leave India for Canada, Chandini Chaturvedi expresses her anger over the fact that she is unable to execute normal tasks such as taking the metro without fear. This depiction of India’s public settings is a theme throughout the mini series that paints a disturbing reality seen in India.
This is not the first time Jyoti Singh’s case has been covered in the global media. In 2015, the BBC released a documentary called, “India’s Daughter.” This film, released on International Women’s Day, dives into Jyoti Singh’s case through a series of interviews with convicted rapist Mukesh Singh, who made misogynistic remarks defending the 2012 gang-rape. At one point he said, “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.”
British documentary maker Leslee Udwin described the recent surge of films and overall media attention from the western world surrounding India’s sexual assault problem as the “Arab spring for gender equality.”