Lies, greed and deceit: Why the Sheena Bora murder case shocked us all

The last time a woman accused of murder said, "She is my sister and my daughter," she ended up with Jack Nicholson's sympathy, LAPD bullets and several Academy Awards nominations.

Indrani Mukerjea may not be a fictional character from the noir classic Chinatown, but her story is equally engrossing, in parts even more confusing and spellbinding than the script of the Roman Polanski film about a woman who, ironically, is willing to kill and get killed to protect her daughter-cum-sister.

 Lies, greed and deceit: Why the Sheena Bora murder case shocked us all

Indrani Mukerjea. Ibnlive

Why has Indrani Mukerjea's story hooked the entire nation? There are certain pre-requisites for a crime that grabs the attention of a nation: A plot spun around a high-society, big-city crime that shatters established notions of morality and prevalent boundaries of inhuman behavior, and layers of complex sub-plots, unexplained questions and contradictory, competing events that obfuscate the identity of the criminal and his motive.

But, the alleged murder mystery of Sheena Bora, Indrani's daughter/sister, has a lot more to shock us, to hold us in awe of the victims and the perpetrators. Just the basic premise of the mystery — mother allegedly killing the daughter, chopping and burning the body and then dumping it in a forest--is implausible, stranger than fiction. It combines elements of all the other horrible crimes that linger in our collective psyche; the murder of Aarushi Talwar meets the roasting in tandoor of Naina Sahni meets the hacking and charring of what was once Neeraj Grover. Two-decades of horrors compressed into one.

Very few crimes have the potential to shake the foundations of every human relations we hold close to our hearts: husband's with wife; mother's with children, brother's with sister. Even fewer are rooted in every deadly sin we have heard of: incest, greed, treachery, deceit, lies, lust, adultery... And rarely, if ever, we hear of what The Telegraph calls a Shamily that is built purely on suspicion, subterfuge and hypocrisy. The story of the Mukerjea-Boras has, unfortunately, become just that, and much more.

Writing for, Kaveree Bamzai, compares the story of Peter Mukherjea and his celebrity wife with the chilling fictional account of the Dunnes (Amy and Nick) of the Gone Girl. 'The ruination of a marriage brings out the authentic selves. And they are not pretty.

Then there are the questions, the doubts that keep us occupied with the whodunit and its attendant whydunit.

Where, for instance, is the biological father of Sheena and her brother? How and why would Indrani's second husband, Sanjeev Khanna, get involved in the crime especially when his marriage ended acrimoniously, after several legal cases? Why would he kill, as the police argue, to secure the financial future of his daughter Vidhie who had already been legally adopted by Peter Mukerjea?

Why did the brother not care to find out where his sister had disappeared? How did a young man so passionately in love that it allegedly led to a murder let Sheena disappear without a trace? How could a young girl, socially active, employed, with a functional family simply vanish and nobody cared?

What is the motive? Financial? That would not be so difficult to crack if somebody followed the basic rule of investigation: follow the money. Tracking down bank transactions between Indrani and Sheena would, needless to say, nail it. But, what if there are deeper, bigger motives at play?

When Polanski made China Town, the story of a woman who is sexually abused by her father and socially forced to treat her daughter like her sister, it was hailed as a classic for its suspense, multi-layered story, cynical view of the American life and tragic conception of human nature.

With the Mukerjeas, China Town has come to India.

Updated Date: Aug 28, 2015 11:06:46 IST