Is Vartika Chaturvedi Based on a Real Delhi Cop?

Netflix’s ‘Delhi Crime’ is an anthology crime thriller that follows a team of cops in the Delhi police solving bloodcurdling cases under extreme pressure. The first season focuses on the investigation into a deeply disturbing rape case, while the second season has the officers chasing a gang of serial killers. In both cases, DCP Vartika Chaturvedi becomes the face of the investigation.

Throughout the series, we see the fierce DCP leading her team through thick and thin, showing immense strength in the face of all challenges. Her steely character proves that she is a force to be reckoned with. If it makes you wonder whether someone like her could exist in reality or only in the stories concocted by the creators, here’s what you should know about her.

Is Vartika Chaturvedi Based on a Real Person?

Yes, Vartika Chaturvedi is based on the former DCP Chhaya Sharma. Born and raised in Delhi, Sharma is an Economics (Honours) graduate from the University of Delhi and the 1999-batch IPS officer of the AGMUT cadre. She became the first woman DCP of South Delhi, and the first Indian police officer to receive the McCain Award for Courage and Leadership “in solving humanitarian and societal issues” from Arizona State University.

Sharma has also served as the DGI at the National Human Rights Commission and was chosen for the 2019 Asia Society Game Changers award for redefining the role of a female police officer. She has also served as the director of the Central Vigilance Commission. In 2021, she was appointed as the Joint Commissioner of the Economic Offences Wing in the Delhi Police. As portrayed in the show, Sharma was the DCP and the in charge of solving the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case.

While it was a jarring crime, Sharma kept her emotions in control and focused solely on finding the rapists and bringing them to justice. “I am first and foremost a police official and my job is to catch criminals and put them behind bars. My job is not to get emotional, but it [my emotions] motivates me to work that much harder on finding the criminals,” she said, in an interview with Millennium Post, calling the case “the most satisfying work” of her career. While the culprits were brought behind bars within a matter of five days, Sharma was transferred from South Delhi to Mizoram four months after the case.

When Sharma was approached for a meeting by Richie Mehta, she was initially hesitant at the prospect of collaborating on the story. She was convinced by Neeraj Kumar, her former boss, who’d served as the Delhi Police Commissioner during the case. She was glad to find that Mehta was very serious about his approach to the case as well as its portrayal on the screen. She also directed the cast and crew to get other details right, especially when it came to the uniforms. “I told them that it’s the police uniform, be careful. It is very irritating to see a sub-inspector in a DIG’s uniform and a DIG in a sub-inspector’s uniform,” she added.

In preparation for the role of Vartika Chaturvedi, actress Shefali Shah met with Sharma, calling her an “inspiring, incredible” person. “It was so enriching for me to meet someone like her. She was someone who chose to fight for Nirbhaya and all the women. I had the honor of interacting with her, understanding how it works and what was going on in her mind. All of that went into creating Vartika,” Shah said. The actress also lent her own interpretation to the role, calling it an “amalgamation of my perception and interpretation and Richie’s research.”

In the end, even with the fictionalization of the story, Chhaya Sharma is happy with the way the show turned out. “I was happy to note the way in which our efforts and hard work were highlighted in the series. A lot of respect was shown in the scenes related to the victim. The challenges and travails of some of our smaller teams in the fields were well captured. Some character amalgamations were done for cinematic purposes, but the efforts put in the telling the story – in its nearly original form, yet keeping all sensitivity on track – was amazing. It was a job done well,” she told The Times of India.

Upon its release, ‘Delhi Crime’ found immediate success and popularity with the audience and critics alike and went on to win an International Emmy award. It also stoked the curiosity of people for Sharma, who has received calls from across the world, be it to know if she’s real or just to hear what she sounds like. Still, even with Vartika Chaturvedi’s character loosely based on her, it hasn’t had any particular impact on Chhaya Sharma’s life, who continues to be of dedicated service to the Delhi police and the people.

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