Undeniably, it was a crime that outraged the nation. The barbaric gangrape and murder of Nirbhaya not only shook the collective consciousness of the country, but also ushered in sweeping reforms in the law. As the horrific incident of 2012 and its aftermath were retold by Indo-Canadian director Richie Mehta last year with his debut web series Delhi Crime, the net result was both unsettling and compelling. The drama, more of a police procedural, which impressed critics and audiences alike, has now brought home India’s first International Emmy, picking up the Best Drama series honour. It is indeed a moment of glory and something to be proud of.
Decoding why a creative work has won a particular laurel is not easy or simple. But a couple of things could have swung things in Delhi Crime’s favour. The series stood out for nuanced performances, realistic treatment and sensible and sensitive handling of a rather difficult subject. Though it brought forth a discomfiting truth and was criticised by a few for being too partial to Delhi Police, the dramatisation can’t be accused of pandering to a western eye or any other gaze. Mehta describes it best, ‘It was born out of sadness, anger, frustration, and ultimately, compassion.’
The rise of OTT platforms and arrival of big players like Netflix and Amazon have consistently raised the bar and redefined entertainment, which in Bollywood parlance has been essentially star-driven. If Sacred Games and Lust Stories won Emmy nominations last year, this year too more than one Indian web series were in contention in different categories. Indian web series are fast acquiring a cutting edge, rivalling the best in the field. As the government decides to play moral nanny and brings OTT platforms under the ambit of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, it must bear in mind while framing rules that the makers are allowed to breathe free and creative liberty is not forsaken for grandstanding.