Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Delhi Crime-Season 2

Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Delhi Crime-Season 2



It’s not as good as the first, but still a cut above most TV series (and movies too!)

Chalk it up to Shefali Shah, “Madam Sir.” If you can’t get over Sidse Babett Knudsen in “Borgen,” you should check out Shefali Shah. They’re completely different, Knudsen is selling sensuality and softness that Shah does not evidence. However, they’re both strong characters, strong women in a man’s world.

Shah plays Vartika Chaturvedi, Deputy Commissioner of the police. And Delhi…is essentially unpoliceable, according to this show. I love the establishing shots, of an almost endless low-rise landscape. Makes me want to go there, but Felice says I say this about all the foreign shows we watch.

I’ve been to Mumbai, and there are a lot of similarities. Most especially the traffic and the motorized rickshaws. They’re like ants in Mumbai. Swarms of them, going in and out of traffic. And with three wheels you know they’re inherently compromised safety-wise. But it’s every person for themselves in India. Actually, the same is true in America, but we didn’t know that until Covid.

So Vartika, i.e. Madam Sir, is in charge of an investigation of brutal break-ins at the residences of wealthy people. They can’t figure out who did it, never mind the motivation. And I could tell you about the twists and turns, but I don’t want to give anything away.

But, Shah plays Vartika seriously. She’s competent, and self-directed, and admits what she doesn’t know, and is loath to play the games of her male superiors who are concerned first and foremost with optics.

Vartika is the voice of reason in an unreasonable world.

Can’t say that I’ve seen an equivalent portrayal in American productions. Because even if the woman has the lead role, she’s glamorous. Whereas Vartika is just a person in the world doing a job. Like most people. Sure, it’s an elevated job, but in Hollywood productions you can see the divide between those on screen and the rest of us. Or else you’ve got a beautiful actress slumming, like Charlize Theron in “Monster.” The Oscars eat this stuff up, but I can’t say I watched the film and didn’t see Theron playing the role, the same way I always see Meryl Streep in her roles, too often the acting is too studied.

But Shefali Shah is more natural, living in her skin.

So I live for these TV series. Movies won’t do it for me, they’re too quick, too much is left out. I love to turn out the lights and get involved. Commit. But too often what you see is just not good enough, you’re watching it but not involved in it. Whereas the shows I like feel almost real.

Everything about “Delhi Crime” is a cut above. Not just the acting. It was not made on the cheap, but unlike in Hollywood the cinematography does not eclipse the story.

And India is the land where the rich and poor live right alongside. And how do you move up the ladder? In America, we’ve been sold the fiction that there’s upward mobility, if you just work hard enough, but that’s statistically untrue, compared to the European countries. Oh, for the first time in my life some of these other countries appear equal to the U.S. We can’t get anything done and the dog is wagged by the tail of the minority and there’s no free health care. HOW CAN THIS BE?

So if you watched the first season of “Delhi Crime,” you should watch the second. And you can watch the second without watching the first, but there’s no reason to do that.

And being a streaming show, not all episodes are cut to length, to fit time constraints. Some are thirty-odd minutes long, and others nearly an hour. And there are only five episodes. Which is a disappointment, because they go so much deeper in the first season. But you can blow through “Delhi Crime 2” in a day or two, it’s not a huge commitment.

You can watch it in English, the default, but I’d say to switch to Hindi with English subtitles, so much of the show is in English anyway.

Once again, you know who you are, you know if this appeals to you. It’s a self-selecting group. There are two camps. Those who turn on the flat screen to find something to watch and those who turn it on because they plan to watch something, those who are looking for entertainment, and those who are looking for more than empty calories, who want to bite into the steak, chew a bit, have their food marinate in their mouths.

Forget that it’s an Indian production, it’s not very foreign, because people around the world are now more similar than different, and the characters ring true more than they do on most TV.

And, once again, as a result of the binge model, you can see it all at once. I’m sad it’s over.


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