Mumbai Mafia: Police vs the Underworld Review – exposing Mumbai’s handling of organized crime

By Romey Norton
Published: January 6, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
Mumbai Mafia: Police vs the Underworld Review - exposing Mumbai's handling of organized crime


Mumbai’s mafia-lead underworld and the encounter specialists who stopped them are a scary and extraordinary part of India’s history. A decent documentary for true crime fans.

This review of the Netflix Documentary Mumbai Mafia: Police vs the Underworld does not contain spoilers.

Netflix always comes up with new and diverse content for its viewers and clearly knows its audiences are hot for crime and underworld drama. India is a big market, due to its population and growing number of entertainment lovers, so it’s no surprise that Netflix is pumping money into projects overseas. Here we have a crime thriller documentary series based on real crimes that happened in the city of Mumbai.

Mumbai Mafia: Police vs the Underworld Review and Plot Summary

Mumbai Mafia: Police vs The Underworld comes from the team behind Crime Stories: India Detectives and follows the battle between Mumbai Police’s “encounter specialists” and organized crime syndicate D-Company. In the 1990’s Mumbai, a serious crime boss Dawood and his men/gangsters wielded their power over the city, using fear to control locals and fleece people out of their hard-earned money. Mumbai was heavy for drug smuggling, gold smuggling, prostitution, cricket match corruption, and even Bollywood was corrupted. The entire city was being run by this intense mafia, and something had to change. 

This documentary offers an in-depth look into the history of the largest city in the country, from the 1970s to the 2000s. The series has first-class encounters and interviews with police officers who were involved in the terrorism, and they share their experiences, their fears, and then tactics of how they stopped more serious crimes from being committed. It’s clear that at the time the police were scared of the repercussions from the gangs, but they also had the pressure to prove that they could take charge and control, as the city was burning around them. 

The interviews are done in multiple locations as if they weren’t all shot in one place at once. These range from being outside under what looks like a bridge, to living rooms and even a theatre-type setting. I really loved the enthusiasm of Minty, a journalist and reporter at the time, he’s a very enthusiastic and animated person to watch. Everyone else is quite serious and monotone, but this isn’t boring or distracting, they’re very clear and concise with their stories. 

In 1992 and 93 Mumbai saw some of the most devastating riots in history, and many blamed police brutality over the gangs. Audiences are shown graphic and violent footage from those riots, which is quite gruesome and harrowing to see. Mumbai was in such a dark place that the police then took more into their own hands and by 2003 they had killed over 1,200 gangsters. Should they have been caught and given the chance for reformation? Was this maverick police group on the right of the law by slaughtering gangsters? One of the men interviewed states he had over 45 encounters (as they would call them) and they were all clean and implied that they shouldn’t blame the police or encounter specialists for being a proactive force. Eventually, after investigations, 15 police/Encounter Specialists were jailed for their killings/crimes, which comes as a shock to them, as they truly thought they were doing right by their country and their people. There were some trying to help, and others for other motives. Either way, this truly became an eye for an eye station, and it feels as if it was all out of hand, and that no true good was conducted. What else could they have done? Crime needs to be controlled/stopped. 

Is Mumbai Mafia good?

Yes. Overall I would recommend this documentary to anyone interested in true crime. In just under one hour and a half it’s got a fast, intense pace to it, and I’m very glad it wasn’t dragged over three or four episodes and is one whole documentary instead. The topic is certainly interesting and a piece of India’s dramatic, dark history. The effects of organized crime in Mumbai were huge, with roughly two shootings a week, but by the early 2000s, it was down to roughly two a month, so these “Encounter Cops” did have an effect. With all this brutality and murder, how different are they really from each other? This series will open your eyes and make you think about the way crime is constructed and then dealt with. 

What did you think of Mumbai Mafia: Police Vs the Underworld? Comment below.

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