For Rasika Dugal, playing a police officer on Delhi Crime — the new Netflix police procedural anthology series, whose first season is inspired by the investigation of the Nirbhaya case — wasn't only “totally beyond [her] realm of experience” but also cathartic, for how it allowed her to revisit the tragedy, in which a young woman was gang raped and brutally assaulted by six men in Delhi in 2012. In an interview with Gadgets 360, Dugal also spoke of the importance of such a story and why she trusted Richie Mehta, the creator, writer and director of Delhi Crime.
“As actors, you've so little control over what finally turns out, that you've to really trust the makers implicitly,” Dugal said. “And specially for something like this, which I wanted to make sure was dealt with sensitively. That was evident from the intention, from the way the script was written, and of course, from the kind of person that Richie is.”
“When I read the script for the first time, besides the detailing and the research, I was also very moved by the idea what he wanted to do with the series. Besides the investigation of the crime, he'd really examined the lives of these women who were a part of the investigation. And how they are negotiating patriarchy in their everyday lives.”
Delhi Crime follows DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah), who takes it upon herself to personally catch the culprits. Dugal plays an IPS officer-in-training called Neeti Singh, who impresses Shah with a task and is subsequently pulled in to aid the victim's family. The show also stars Rajesh Tailang and Adil Hussain among others.
“In doing that through those characters, [Mehta] is sort of building an environment [and] setting up a world in which a crime like this happened. That was very moving to me. Because I constantly feel that when we talk about incidents of violence against women, we forget to talk about all the smaller things that happened around it, which enabled it to happen. And that conversation we don't get down to. We get outraged at that time and we fall back into the complacency of our lives and forget to check this at every point.”
“And in one sense, I think for me, it was almost cathartic going through the experience of working on this, because I felt that I had forgotten too quickly what had happened in 2012. And I wanted to relive that, almost selfishly, as a way of assuaging my guilt. But also, that I feel it's important to remember.”
To prepare for her role in Delhi Crime, Dugal hung out with police officers in the same capacity as her character and got an insight into their work and mindset.
“As part of the training, they don't have one job,” she added. “They try and understand the working of the police, however they can. Sometimes they try and understand the working of a police station. On another day they'd be at a checkpoint, or another day, they will be with a [Police Control Room] van. And sometimes at a parade.”
“I met them at these many different places, and it was interesting. I just found that all of them are very, very idealistic and very strong sense of duty, very wanting to change the world. But already, becoming a little sceptical of how that was going to happen, which was heart-breaking in a way. Similar to what Neeti's journey might be through the series.”
Her Delhi Crime co-star Tailang had a much different experience, given he's portrayed cops in the past and even directed episodes of the 1999 Zee TV and DD1 fugitive-hunter serial, India's Most Wanted.
“But here, it was a little different, because we had to grasp the human aspect of it,” Tailang said. “I met some police officers and there was one in particular, whom I made my point of reference. I didn't just imitate him from the outside, but went deeper into his thoughts, his mental framework, and his approach toward work and life. I made all that a part of my character.”
Delhi Crime also reunited him with Mehta, whom he has previously worked with on multiple occasions, going back to 2007. Tailang said that was “definitely an advantage” and added: “There's a comfort level and you develop a language of understanding each other. We are like friends, we've roamed the streets of Delhi, and talked about all the projects. For an actor, that's a blessing. It gives you fertile ground to explore yourself.”
Delhi Crime is out Friday, March 22 on Netflix worldwide.