“Netflix series Delhi crime will change system and conversation of women’s safety”: Actor Sanjay Bishnoi who plays the victim’s friend

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Actor and casting director Sanjay Bishnoi who was recently seen in the Netflix series Delhi crime based on Nirbhaya gang rape crime which premiered at Sundance Festival last January. The show started streaming on Netflix March 22 — is subtle and controlled.

Tell us about the series and role.
It’s directed by Richie Mehta based on Nirbhaya tragedy in 2012. The series focuses on 5 days from the incident took place and then what happened in the coming 5 days. It is based on original case files. Basically Richie Mehta is relative of then Delhi commissioner Neeraj Kumar who kind off insisted him to make a series on incident. But Richie wasn’t sure when he narrated it but Neeraj suggested him to meet lady officer Vartika Chaturvedi which is played by Shefali Shah. Eventually when they met and he got to know that how unequipped our police is in such cases. There is a out rage off course! That’s how it should be but then there are so many things about our system that we don’t know whether they are really prepared about this things. I’m playing character Akash, friend of victim who is the only witness of the case.

What do you feel on working on the real story of Delhi crime?
That is the case which disturbed everyone and I’m sure we all wanted to do something about it in our own capacity. So when I was offered it’s not like I have a choice it’s my first commercial film. So on big screen this is my first project. I was well aware of the project. When Mukesh Chabra gave me the script and I recorded the audition, when I read it the every line I could relate with it. Like what happened with these two at 8 o’clock in a cold night in Delhi, completely helpless whom six people attacked them. Nobody can predict something like that. So it was very disturbing and extremely painful to go through that those 2-3 months of shooting. Like someone went through this and I only had to imagine it, still it was difficult. I hope this story reaches the people, it changes the people, it changes the system and conversation of women’s safety.

How was you approached for your role?
The entire credit goes to Mukesh Chabra, he asked me to audition for the project. I got script and I went through it. Maybe they had a word with Richie and it escalated in to something and I was on board with project.

Do you think is there a change or revolution took place in India after that incident or it’s the same. How will people connect with it and your role?
As far as change is concerned after this incident, I definitely see people are more sensitive and willing to do something about it. Because of that Richie spent 6 years and made this project. I mean it’s long time, if that propelled him and that motivated him make a series with such honesty then surely there is a change. But is it enough? I don’t think so! There is a lot need to be changed – the mindset, patriarchy, attitude towards women , policing around them and lot of time like how we perceive and give space to women in political system and everywhere in education system. It kind of hit hard like it captured the imagination of the entire world not just India. We went to Sundance Film Festival with this, I saw the reaction in US and we had houseful screening. People were engaged and wanted to know about the incident they were kind of aware of it. Response was great. You just have to realize that how inhuman was that. It’s not just a rape case it’s much more than that. That’s why it reached that far. I really hope series and initiative like this is discussed and reaches far so it kind of affect a change. As far as my role is concerned I tried to be empathetic honest. The guilt which stays with you, I mean it’s not easy to be normal. I read somewhere the boy said- ‘Every night I think about the incident and ways I could have done it differently. ‘ which constantly haunts. I mean we are angry about something and what are we doing ? On that front this story will do a lot. If people watch definitely they will come out in form

What are your upcoming projects?
So I have done a feature film “Ashok vatika ” directed by rahul mallick
Film is completed and screened at film bazaar Goa.
Now we are looking for festivals and distribution options.
Film was shot in banaras and deals with story of a young widow in banaras and her struggle to find companionship and her sexual desires.

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