Crime Stories: India Detectives review: An honest police story that could have been so much better
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Crime Stories: India Detectives review: An honest police story that could have been so much better

The investigation of four true-crime stories led by teams from the Bengaluru police force; right from the intimation of the incident, to solving the case and, potentially, bringing the culprit to book.

Prathibha Joy
Sep 22, 2021
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Crime Stories: India Detectives

Story: Netflix’s first Kannada show, Crime Stories: India Detectives follows the investigations into four crimes, three murders and a kidnapping, and their logical conclusions. Do all the victims get the justice they deserve?

Review: For the longest time, Kannada audiences' biggest grouse was the lack of content in the language on Netflix. In what seems to be an effort to remedy that, the streaming giant has made baby steps in that direction with the docu-series Crime Stories: India Detectives, in a genre that is a sure-shot winner, which dropped on September 22.

Scams, cons and crime stories based on true events have always been a big draw for cinema, TV and now, even OTT content. The sheer volume of such content is indication that we are all drawn to the where, what, how, and why of a crime. And it gets better when the true crime is not dramatized; giving you a close-up look at all the sleazy details, gore and the actual parties involved. This is where Crime Stories: India Detectives scores, with four very different crimes that made headlines in the bustling metropolitan city, Bengaluru.

Originally shot in Kannada, with subtitles in English, the show is divided into four parts, each dedicated to a particular case. The objective: To show audiences the tireless effort that goes into solving each as quickly as possible. So, it begins from the moment a call comes to the control room about the basic details of the crime, how it is passed along the chain of command to arrive at a suitable plan of action and the methodology adopted to solve each of these cases.

For an Indian audience that is accustomed to the ways the police machinery functions, nothing may seem amiss with this. But when you consider that this is a show that will potentially have an international audience, that is where the issue crops up. From officers trampling all over crime scenes before a forensic team arrives, to the irreverent handling of the mortal remains of the victims, be it in the transportation from the scene to the mortuary, or while being put into the freezer drawer there, and the derogatory, and often disparaging, language used while interacting with accused parties – there’s just too much that shows our rather primitive ways.

I took particular offence to much of what was said in the investigation into the death of a commercial sex worker, even though it ended with a feeble attempt at atonement. You can’t have an officer candidly remark that she considered sex workers scum of the earth that she had no sympathy for, irrespective of the circumstances that drove them into it, until, of course, this particularly eye-opening case.

In the run-up to the release of the show, it was widely reported that the docu-series would examine the psyche of the investigation officers, especially the environments they go back to at home after a hard day at work, as well as that of the culprits, to understand the circumstances that drove them to commit a crime. Unfortunately, both fall flat and seem more like a force fit than a natural progression of events.

But my biggest issue with the whole series is the choice of stories. There seems to be a pattern. The crimes take place among the lower strata of society. Are we to infer that the most heinous crimes are committed only by the under-privileged? Haven’t we heard of a fair share of cases involving affluent kids turning to crime to fund their lavish lifestyles?

Verdict: For what it’s worth, Crime Stories: India Detectives does not attempt to whitewash the police department. Yes, there is a lingering shot of a female officer’s perfectly-manicured nails as she attends a phone call that could have only been for the benefit of the camera. But for the most part, it is an honest depiction of how Bengaluru’s cops are. It is not binge-worthy, but is definitely a good one-time watch.

PS: Special shout-out to DCP N Shashi Kumar, who is by far the best on the show. Watching him bust a few moves to Tagaru Banthu Tagaru is quite something.

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