C for Crime: Vice India's six-part series is a bite-sized crash course on the real Mirzapur

Kusumita Das

December 05, 2018 16:44:11 IST

If you are yet to look it up on Wikipedia, and are wondering whether or not Mirzapur is a real place, a new documentary is here to tell us just how real it is. Inspired by the recently released Amazon Prime original web series Mirzapur, VICE India’s latest offering is what they are calling a “crime documentary” titled क Se Crime (C for Crime).

The docu series has just aired its first episode, न Se Nakal Mafia, on Vice India’s website. It takes a closer look at the cheating racket and the hijacking of examination centres, as prevalent in North India, particularly in the eastern Uttar Pradesh region, commonly known as Purvanchal. क Se Crime follows an episodic format wherein it takes on one aspect of crime at a time to explore how and why Purvanchal has become a nucleus of crime and bloodshed, starting in the late '90s. We have episodes like Fa Se Faraari, Sh Se Shooter, Ga se Gang…you get the drift. Thanks to this ‘A-for-apple’ style the titles follow, the series, quite literally, appears to be a crash course on the backdrop of all that we see in the fictional series, Mirzapur. How did the country gun trade originate there? Where does the mafia get its power from? Why are carpets relevant? How do politicians gain from it? Who are the players in a gangsters' ring? — these are a few of the questions क Se Crime addresses through its short episodes, each spanning under 10 minutes.

Poster for

Poster for क Se Crime

The title format, we are told, was a stylistic choice. “It was to highlight the ‘explainer’ aspect of the content,” says Samira Kanwar, head of content, VICE India. “This particular format allows us to show a larger picture of these organised crime rings and rackets. It also helps us keep the primary intention of each episode on the forefront instead of opting to show individual characters or specific incidents.” The makers have deliberately kept it bite-sized. “We want more people to watch it; we did not want this to be heavy or long or intimidating,” Kanwar says. That’s why the narrative style follows a dramatic storyteller’s tone that’s far removed from the objective ‘news anchor’ style, and Vijay Raaz is just the man for the job. The writing too has a tabloidish flavour coloured with metaphors and the ominous background score ups the drama quotient to a point where it doesn’t feel like a documentary at times. So if you’re looking at long-form and in-depth, look elsewhere. This one strictly fits the attention span of Generation Touchscreen.

Mirzapur review: Pointless, copious gore sinks Amazon Prime's latest Original in its own bloodbath

Among those featured in the six-part series are crime journalists, Special Task Force (STF) officers, police officers and even a criminal himself, who systematically take you through all that transpires in the ganglands. Skimming the surface yes, but nonetheless, it helps to know. They throw light on lesser known facts from history like how the liberalisation of the Indian economy impacted the mafioso or in what ways the Indian Railways, as started by the East India Company, unwittingly drew a business model for gangsters to ape. This is first-hand knowledge of course, and therefore naturally lends itself to be taken seriously. “Our research helped us identify people who would be best placed to answer queries as they were directly involved or have seen the major incidents of crime and the rise and fall of the Purvanchal mafia. We managed to get in touch with crime reporters and police officers, who were happy to lend us their support. Certain people were harder to get hold of than others but we managed our way around by following one lead to the next,” Kanwar tells us.

The docu series was shot in Varanasi, Mirzapur, Sarnath, Lucknow and Kanpur, besides some studio shots which were filmed in Mumbai. The footage was put together in 10 days, but the team had started its research prior to the release of the fictional series. Several aspects of क Se Crime will remind you of its fictional counterpart. For instance, Munna Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma), a pivotal character in the show appears to get his name from Uttar Pradesh’s dreaded don-turned-politician Munna Bajrangi who finds ample mention in the documentary. [Unless one argues that Munna is perhaps the naam-toh-suna-hoga “Rahul” of Purvanchal]. The documentary also talks of how young boys in the region, who have not turned miscreants yet, aspire to become collectors. It reminded me of Bablu (Vikrant Massey) from Mirzapur, who gives up that ambition to join the nexus of crime. So, if Mirzapur, the show, were a book, then क Se Crime would be the appendix.

However, this docu series has its eyes set beyond Mirzapur. “The intention is to make क Se Crime a regular ‘explainer’ series on crime, which will be focusing on other kinds of crime in other regions too in its future episodes,” Kanwar tells us.

Updated Date: Dec 05, 2018 16:45 PM