First: a disclaimer. I am a Mumbaikar and my only exposure to crime stories has to do with Dawood, Chhota Shakeel, Dubai, Cotton Green, Reay Road, and thanks to a decent Bollywood movie on a shootout, Lokhandwala. I don’t know if it was despite or because of my ignorance that I wanted to watch ‘क se Crime’, a documentary series by VICE India, inspired by a new Amazon Prime Original show, Mirzapur. With two punchy episodes out, I am hooked, and can’t wait for more. Stories from smaller towns that I haven’t heard of and of gangs and gang leaders I don’t know of, but with crimes and scams that are unbelievably exciting — are making me wish these guys would put up all the episodes sooner. Here’s why this should be your next binge:
#1: It’ll Make You Wonder Where The ‘Solvers’ Were When You Flunked Your Exam
So, the first episode gives you an insight on how students in UP and Bihar find a way to pass exams. In small towns, government jobs are a gateway to a well-settled life but hardly anyone clears them. This is where the ‘jugaadi kands’ come in, with the Nakal Mafia. I swear I could find myself wishing I could’ve outsourced my final year Business Journalism paper with this type of jugaad. The mafia goes to the lengths of directly contacting the exam centre and even hiring a ‘solver’ aka Mr. Smarty Pants who will go and give the exam on your behalf, maybe even looking like you while doing it. The Solver gets his cut which, TBH, sounds like an amazing way to earn some dough. Knowing how they bypass things like biometrics is amazing.
I love shows that dive into not just how gangs operate and the racy chase sequences but also the psychology of the criminals, and what goes behind the making of the gangs. The second episode in the series sheds light on the biggest ganglords of the ’90s: Munna Bajrangi, Sri Prakash and Krishnanand Rai. Apart from the spine-chilling events, it gives the viewer facts in a short purview about crimes that have happened in these small towns. At this point, it doesn’t matter where you live or what your background is—true crime and criminal stories like these will have you hooked anyway.
Before this episode, I had no idea as to what a katta (a small gun) is; it was very popular in the 80s and 90s. I’m enlightened now.
Vijay Raaz’ narration adds a layer of depth to the riveting info and writing that has gone into the series. You know how you can’t isolate some movies or shows from the voices they feature, because they feel so integral to the package? This is one of them.
The shows are snappy, ranging from 4 to 8-something minutes. Compared to the long web series that have the potential to hijack our entire lives, I appreciate how these can be consumed quickly and without losing interest at any point.
Just look at the indie gods that feature in Mirzapur (Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey FTS!). To pull off content inspired by a powerful story with powerful characters requires not just guts but great production and research. Thankfully, this delivers on all counts.
Check out the rest of this docu-series on Vice.com.