India is plagued with issues such as unemployment, lack of education, lack of food, lack of proper housing, disproportionate distribution of wealth, lack of proper healthcare, a toxic political climate, a toxic social climate, and the list just goes on. The impact all this has on one’s mental health is a topic that we are not ready to have because we are in a mad rush to stay alive. Last year’s Netflix documentary, “House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths,” highlighted the aforementioned issues while telling a harrowing story about how damaging the system of patriarchy can be. This year, it seems like Netflix has tried to do the same from the perspective of migrants, with “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi.” And the effort is laudable, but the results are questionable.
Directed by Ayesha Sood, “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi” tells the story of one Chandrakant Jha, who took the Delhi Police on a wild goose chase back in 2006. He used to kill people, cut up their body parts, place them all over Delhi and then call up the police to challenge them to catch him. He was eventually caught, and the information that the police managed to get out of him was nothing short of spine-chilling. The miniseries is made of audio-visual recreations based on the notes Chandrakant Jha used to write to the police and his eventual interrogation. It also features interviews with Investigating Officer Sunder Singh, Journalist Amit Kumar Jha, Additional DCP (Delhi) HGS Dhaliwal, Clinical Forensic Scientist Dr. SL Vaya, Legal Journalist Utkarsh Anand, people from Chandrakant’s hometown, and more.
The miniseries consists of three episodes. The first two episodes go over how Chandrakant Jha did what he did, how he disposed of the bodies, and how the police investigated the killings and eventually got a hold of him. It’s only at the tail-end of the second episode and the entirety of the third episode that the miniseries gets into the more sinister aspects of Jha and the larger problem that the existence of someone like him highlights. So, the whole endeavor feels both repetitive and abrupt. Without spoiling too much, during the concluding moments of “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi,” a few interesting perspectives are established. One is the rehabilitation of Jha, and whether he deserves it. Two, is the impact his actions had (and continue to have) on the families of his victims. Three, the improper conduct of the Delhi Police. And four, the discrimination against migrants.
However, the problem is that “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi” doesn’t really dwell on these aforementioned four points. It just mentions them and brings the story to a close. But these are very complex and deep-rooted issues that need a long discussion. Especially the part about the Delhi Police. If you are aware of what the Delhi Police have done over the past few years, you’ll immediately be hit by a sense of repulsion against them (and how they are presenting themselves). Kudos to Sood for highlighting the fact that extrajudicial punishment exists, and that the police do take bribes and exploit the desperation of victims. However, it doesn’t go further than that, thereby giving the impression that their perspective was only important to establish the point that the Delhi Police did their job well. However, you see a hint of the hypocrisy of this harbinger of justice as they fail to properly accept that they discriminate against migrants.
Also, let’s talk about the focus on migrants. The point that (I am strongly assuming) the miniseries is trying to make is that there is a vast difference between village life and city life. That difference is a result of classism, capitalism, and more. And that that difference can be a contributing factor to one losing their marbles and doubling down on their moral superiority after seeing city folk be more liberal about their ethics. But the fact that Chandrakant was always unhinged contradicts this point and makes it look like the interviewees were bringing up the topic of migrants for no reason whatsoever. There is no doubt that metro cities are very biased against people who aren’t born and brought up there. So, is the inclusion of this topic meant to show India’s discriminatory traits, because it certainly doesn’t add anything to the character portrait of Chandrakant Jha? You tell me.
In conclusion, “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi” is essential viewing for all because it highlights a story that should keep us awake at night, especially after the revelation at the end of the miniseries. It is well-directed by Ayesha Sood; well-shot by Linesh Desai; well-edited by Anupama Chabukswar; well-composed by Salvage Audio Collective; and is an engaging audio-visual experience, thanks to Plexus Motion’s animation and graphics. Altaf Hussain (who plays Chandrakant Jha) delivers such an impactful performance that he should be immediately hired for mainstream movies and shows. But the overall message of the miniseries is a little convoluted because it is multi-pronged. It wants to touch upon the atmosphere that leads to the creation of serial killers, nature versus nature, the definition of justice, and the discrimination of migrants. And three episodes are simply not enough to give satisfying conclusions to all those topics. Still, it’s worth a watch.