The show Delhi Crime became the benchmark for sensitive portrayals ever since it went live on a streaming platform. And on top of that, it also won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series recently. Based on the 2012 Delhi Nirbhaya gang rape case, it reconstructed the investigation that followed, with a cast led by actors Shefali Shah, Rajesh Tailang, Rasika Dugal and Adil Hussain.
While it’s natural for actors to get all the attention for a project, Pooja Kohli Taneja, executive producer on the show, recalls how the show came together in the first place. Excerpts:
What do you think it was about the show that made it different?
Since the start, we were all aware that nobody wanted to revisit the Delhi gang-rape incident, in a way, nobody wanted to see or know that again. Instead, we wanted to show the audiences how the case was solved. How a very strong DCP, Chaya Sharma, who has probably seen these kind of gruesome incidents on a daily basis in a city like Delhi, was still so affected by this particular incident. It stood out as something that made all of us question not just our society, but the kind of humans that we’ve become.
How did you come to be involved with it?
Richie (Mehta; writer-director of the show) had reached out to David Stern many years before we even jumped on it, David was part of Florence Sloan & Jeff Sagansky development company and they had funded the initial bible and pilot and greenlit it once all of that was done. It still was a very sensitive subject and there weren’t really any takers in the market for doing something like this and at that point Richie asked us, “If we believed in it so much, why don’t we produce it?’ So we all came on board to fund this. It’s a testament of sorts that every single person who put their own money into making this did not know whether it would ever get sold or released. Our conviction in the narrative made us take the plunge and off course our belief in Richie.
In India, most of the credit for the success of a show or film for that matter, goes to the actors who are the face, how different is it abroad?
The star system in India has always been the go-to factor for understanding and almost like weighing the importance or the scale of a project, and that works for certain kinds of work. Mainly theatrical films where you need to draw people in and that face value of a star goes a really long way. But abroad, the talent and the ability to not just replicate and transform into the characters that the actors have to play, but to convincingly be able to give controlled and nuanced performances was always a priority.
Do awards really matter at some point for a show like this?
When we got the nomination, we were thrilled. Yes, awards and recognition matter, as they validate the hard work of the entire cast and crew, which in turn gets us to work stronger and it gets better for the projects ahead. We didn’t even realise how big this was till we won, honestly because nobody was counting the chicken before it hatched.
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