Shefali Shah says audience shouldn’t ‘burden’ Delhi Crime 2 by comparing it to season 1: ‘Give it its due chance’

The second season of Netflix’s Emmy-nominated thriller Delhi Crime is all set to release. The show took the streaming world by storm with its gritty and accurate depiction of the hunt for the perpetrators of the infamous 2012 Delhi gang rape in season one. In season two, the same team of cops is on the hunt for a more sinister group of criminals – the dreaded kachha-baniyaan gang. The show’s director Tanuj Chopra and actors Shefali Shah, Rasika Dugal, and Rajesh Tailang sat down with Hindustan Times for a chat about season 2 and how the show grows from the first season. Also read: Delhi Crime 2 trailer: Shefali Shah returns to nab the kaccha-baniyaan gang

Delhi Crime was almost a self-contained story about the hunt for Nirbhaya’s perpetrators. Not many expected the story to continue or for there to be a second season. Tanuj Chopra, who has taken over direction duties from showrunner Richie Mehta, explains the genesis of season 2. “It was the desire to grow the show, to take it to a newer place. Season 1 was a self-contained season and you can’t do it again. There is no point in doing it again. There is no challenge for the actors, no challenge for me. The challenge is to take the show and maybe people who couldn’t watch season 1 and bring them in,” he says.

Rajesh Tailang, who plays inspector Bhupendra Singh, says it is tough to get back in the character’s head space again but being on set with the same team helps. He says, “It’s not always that your character is where you left him in the last season. Their life has progressed too. It’s not like a novel where you placed a bookmark and then resumed it from there. That is challenging of course. But acting is reacting. But when everyone is back together on set, all the stimuli are there on set, it becomes slightly easier.”
Rasika Dugal plays ACP Neeti Singh, a young IPS officer, in Delhi Crime.

If the first season was about the crime, the team asserts that the second is more about the team and their lives. The crime does not take a backseat but the characters do come to the foreground as well. Shefali Shah, who stars as the investigative team’s head DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, tells us, “I get to delve deeper into her. In season one, there was a crime that shook the entire nation and the world and how this team reacted to it. Here, it is not as simple as there is a crime and there are culprits and evidence. Here, there is so much of introspection that it is amazing. In season one, the line was very clear. There was no wavering of moral compass. Here, it’s not as simple as that. It’s far more muddled.”

Rasika Dugal, who won praise for her portrayal of the wet behind the ears trainee IPS officer Neeti in season 1, says she is excited to show her character’s growth, something that attracts her to series with multiple seasons. “I just feel subsequent seasons are always interesting to me. There are always some things that have worked that you can take forward and some things you might not. For an actor, just to receive the content of a subsequent season is always very exciting. I just want to see what creative writers and minds can do with something like that,” she says.

While the show has been applauded for its crafty and sensitive handling of police procedure and crime, many have remarked that it is too soft on the police, often almost working as a piece glorifying them. Shefali does not agree that the show isn’t objective in its depiction of the Delhi Police. She argues, “I don’t think it’s aiming to be soft or hard on either side. When that crime took place (the 2012 Delhi gang rape on which season one was based), I was just cursing everyone for what happened to this girl and wondering why is nobody doing anything about it. When I read the script, there was somebody who did something about it and it made me feel safer. In season 2, we do show they are human, they make mistakes and falter. We are not saying everything is just hunky dory, they are spotless and that they are doing their job perfectly well.

Rajesh Tailang plays Inspector Bhupinder Singh, a veteran of the Delhi Police.
Rajesh Tailang plays Inspector Bhupinder Singh, a veteran of the Delhi Police.

The first season of Delhi Crime was universally praised by fans and critics. An International Emmy nomination is validation enough of its quality, perhaps. The team realises the second season will be compared to the first but urges the audience to watch it on its own merit. Shefali says, “We are not aiming to make season one. We have been given a legacy of something so beautiful, leave it there. First and foremost, there is no competition that this has to match up to that. This just has to be good in its own space and I am very proud of what we have made. A comparison might be natural but honestly, my sincere request to people is that they give it its due chance and then decide. What the audience feels is not in our control. But don’t burden it with something else, which is not fair.”

The first season released in 2019. It has taken three years for the second season to come out. Asked if they plan to take this long for season 3 as well, and director Tanuj shoots back asking if the audience wants a third season. “I think everyone should do a petition,” he says in jest, before adding, “We are excited that there is definitely more we can do with the show.”

Delhi Crime season 2 is a six-part series that premieres on Netflix from August 26. Apart from Shefali, Rasika, and Rajesh, the show also stars Adil Hussain, Gopal Dutt, Sidharth Bhardwaj, Denzil Smith, Yashaswini Dayama, and Tillotama Shome.

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