Watching a True Crime documentary is often a thrilling experience. There are twists and turns and a big reveal, but all in real life. However, there is a human cost to True Crime, with real people involved in these ‘stories.’ Claire Cahill, the series producer of Crime Stories: India Detectives, believes in utmost sensitivity when it comes to filming those whose lives get entangled into serious crimes. Crime Stories: India Detectives is a documentary series streaming on Netflix, that follows senior members of the Bengaluru Police as they investigate grizzly crimes in the Indian city.
In a chat with News18, Cahill opened up about the process of making the docu-series, following law enforcement and filming loved ones of victims. When asked why the team chose to follow Bengaluru Police, she said, “The ambition was to make a crime series by following live investigations in India. There was consideration for Delhi and Mumbai but we felt that those were cities that have been seen quite a lot. Bangalore is in an incredible moment of modernisation and it felt very timely. The opportunity to capture Bangalore, in this way and at this time felt very special. Lots of people don’t know Bangalore and haven’t seen it. So the opportunity to show a new and modern India was very exciting for us.
“When a city is modernising at the rate that Bangalore is, what does that means is that it obviously puts pressure on the police force. Not only are we seeing a new city in a new way, but we are also seeing the access with the police. We are also learning about the pressures that the police face when a city is modernising at the rate Bangalore is.”
Crime Stories: India Detectives follows four serious cases from the point a complaint has been made to its fruition. Talking about why the teams chose these stories to tell, Cahill said, “We had no control over what cases took place over our filming period. Obviously, crimes happen and we followed the investigation. How we arrived at these crimes is essentially a result of clear communication with our DCPs. They would notify us when a serious crime happened and we knew that we would be following serious crime investigations. The police have a sense whether a case is going to be solved quickly or it will take time to solve. So we would take their advice on whether a case was rare or unusual. We filmed other cases as well but we arrived at these four cases.”
She further added that the team was deeply involved while the developments in the case unfolded. “We were at the station almost 24X7 because the police are not going to wait for us to come back while they follow a lead. We needed to be there with them and follow everything that was happening. These four investigations in the series are not only interesting with their twists and turns, but we also hoped that they would reveal something else about humanity and human behaviour. Crime is often an end result of a lot of compounding reasons. So we hoped that these stories would lead us to those broader discussion points,” she shared.
Filming the families of victims, as well as suspects in a case requires a lot of sensitivity. She shared, “Working with Netflix and everyone being committed to this project for a very long time has meant that we have been able to build really strong relationships with everyone included in the projects. From the very beginning, as soon as there is a camera in the room, it is our responsibility as a team to notify them why we are filming, what we are filming for and take their consent to be filmed. That’s the very baseline. Over the course of weeks and months that followed, we stayed in regular contact with the family members. Often we would do interviews later so that the people would have time to deal with what was happening. We wouldn’t rush anyone so that they could do all the rituals to send off their family members in the correct way.
“Overridingly, across the series, we had a policy of transparency, honesty and trust. The truth is, if anyone doesn’t want to be filmed, they won’t be. The best way that you can make someone feel comfortable is by giving them information. We were allowed to film the police but that doesn’t extend to the public. We had to talk to them one on one and gain their trust. It was absolutely within their right to not be filmed. There were some incredible, emotional interviews we filmed because people wanted to talk about what they are going through. These contributions are so valuable in documentary.”
The docu-series has become quite popular among the viewers of the streaming service since it’s release last month. Are the makers planning a season two in another Indian city? “Personally I would love that, but it is a much bigger conversation. What we are enjoying right now is seeing how people are responding to the first series. It’s fantastic to see that the film is going out and people are reacting to it in a positive way. But that (season 2) is TBC for now,” she signed off.