MUMBAI (AFP) – Richie Mehta was at first reluctant to make Netflix’s latest Indian series, documenting the aftermath of a gang-rape and murder of an Indian student that made global headlines.
Physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh, 23, was left for dead by five men and a teenager on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.
The crime shone an international spotlight on India’s high levels of sexual violence, and sparked weeks of protests and eventually a change in the law to introduce the death penalty for rape.
“Initially, I was against the idea. I thought it was inappropriate for anyone to do it,” the Indian-Canadian director said.
“But after I read the verdict and met some of the officers involved, I was amazed. The verdict detailed the manhunt and who these people were and how they were found.
“I realised that this analysis of hunting these guys is also a way of understanding why these things happen,” he added.
Delhi Crime, a seven-part series, will be released on Friday (March 22).
Four of the adults accused received death sentences, while one died in prison by a suspected suicide. The teenager was released after three years in a youth detention home.
Mehta said Delhi’s police commissioner at the time of the atrocity, Mr Neeraj Kumar, had suggested to him that the investigation would make for a powerful film.
The film-maker disagreed but gradually changed his mind and went on to spend four years interviewing police officials involved in the case.
“When the crime happened, there was a lot of anger pointed towards this institution. But when I got to know their point of view, I realised the police were trying their best, especially given the statistics.
“As we say at the start of the show, 11,000 heinous crimes are reported every year (in Delhi). Prevention is nearly impossible with half the police force stuck on traffic duty and VIP protection,” he added.
Mehta said he spoke to the victim’s family to assure them that her murder would not be depicted. The series, shot in English and Hindi, was well received at its premier at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
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