Editorial: Masala Thriller Okayed, But What About Its Impact On Real-Life Case?

Editorial: Masala Thriller Okayed, But What About Its Impact On Real-Life Case?

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, March 01, 2024, 09:59 PM IST
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Indrani Mukerjea while she was in prison | File Photo

The much-awaited docuseries on the streaming platform Netflix, The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth, finally released on Thursday but not before the Bombay High Court had dismissed the plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that airing it could prejudice the ongoing murder trial in which Mukerjea is the prime accused. The docuseries was originally scheduled for release on February 23. In the intervening days, the court as well as CBI officers were shown the four-part docuseries by its makers to allay their misgivings. The court stated that there was nothing that would hurt the ongoing trial in the Sheena Bora murder case. Bora disappeared in Mumbai, Mukerjea was arrested with her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and, later that year when the CBI took over the case, her then husband Peter Mukerjea was arrested too. The investigating agency argued that the Mukerjeas killed Bora to nip in the bud the blossoming relationship between Sheena and Rahul, Peter’s son from a previous marriage. Indrani served time in jail during trial, divorced Peter since, and has received wealth and property as part of the settlement.

This is a story with all the ingredients that go into the making of a masala thriller on streaming platforms that have now garnered large audiences. Crime thrillers based on real-life cases around the country have proved to be a big draw and have led to the reprise of several old and forgotten crime cases in India’s history. The impact that sustained exposure to such content leaves on audiences goes beyond entertainment, as studies have shown, but that is another story. The questions here, taking off from the Bora-Mukerjea case, are larger: when filmmakers and series producers choose to dramatise real life cases of murder, terror, rape and cheating for eyeballs and profits, they bring people’s attention to these incidents with the added doses of glamour and spectacle. This particular docuseries may not be prejudicial to the ongoing case but this cannot be said about others in the genre. A cooling period in which cases cannot be dramatised on screen would help avert the situation that arose with this docuseries.

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