The Nirbhaya case jolted the country, filling citizens with rage and anger in 2012. People took to the streets protesting against the administration and demanding justice. But while the general mass was fuming in anger, there was a group of people in the police department who were working day and night to put the accused behind bars.
The protest and the case got both national and international coverage, little is known about what went down at the Delhi Police headquarters. Netflix's Indian original, Delhi Crime, directed by Richie Mehta, is a fictionalised account of the 72 hours in which the police tracked down the six accused.
Rajesh Tailang, who essays the role of Inspector Bhupendra, a key official involved in the case, remembers that he was in Delhi when the incident happened. Speaking to News18, he said, "At that time when Nirbhaya happened, I was in Delhi and all of us were in pain and anger at that time. Whatever information we collected then was through the media, I am not saying the information was wrong, but it was inadequate as we had no clue what was happening on the police's front. The police's perception was exposed to me through this series."
Rasika Dugal, who is seen as an under training IPS officer in the seven-part series, said, "From a civilian point of view, everything that had happened then angered us. Like Rajesh, I didn't see the case from the police's point of view ever. I have nobody in the family or close friends who are in the services, so their lives and what they go through is something I never realised until I read the script."
Rasika shares the nation's collective guilt about the incident and called it a cathartic experience to step into the shoes of an officer investigating the case. "It is always hurtful and painful to revisit it, but a part of me wanted to revisit that because I don't want to forget what happened in 2012, because we tend to forget things very quickly and we try to move on and I feel guilty about it."
In Delhi Crime, Rasika's character is the closest to Nirbhaya's parents. She has just joined the forces and has a more personal approach to the case. She is like a bridge between the police, the parents and somewhere the media, too. Elaborating on her character, she said, "The journey for Neeti starts off with a sense of duty and she's involved in it with full sincerity and she wants to do it honestly. But over time, the investigation becomes secondary for her. The life of the victim and her parents become more important."
On the other hand, Bhupendra has been in the department for a long time now and he realises that as an officer one can't afford the luxury of emotions. Bhupendra has a family to look after, his own health issues and in the midst of all this, he has a heinous crime to solve. "When I was approaching Bhupendra, I was focusing on his human nature at the first. He has a life outside duty and he's balancing the investigation in between and that's his struggle. He, of course, wants to bring justice right at the moment but he cannot because he understands that he has to work within the boundaries of law, fulfilling his duties at home," said Rajesh.
During the conversation, Rasika said she feels that somewhere most of the on-screen portrayals of policemen have been extreme. Either they are superheroes who save the world or they are corrupt conmen looting the general public. The human angle is missing.
Rajesh agreed, "After working in the series, I had a realisation that they (policemen) are also humans who have feelings and limitations and they have to work within the parameters of law and order. They are not supercops and superheroes from comics that they can immediately catch the culprits and bring justice to the victims. The best thing about the script is that Richie lets them be normal humans who are trying to manage the pressure built on them."
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