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‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ Review: Where Truth Meets TV

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

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‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ Review: Where Truth Meets TV

In 2022, it was difficult to escape the news surrounding the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp case. A media trial was soon followed by everyone on social media becoming judge and jury. That is the danger of dramatising real-life cases and tragedies – this is a conversation that many have had surrounding documentaries in general as well. When we recreate or dramatise someone’s life for public consumption, there is a need for responsibility. 

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

A still from The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

This is something I found myself thinking about frequently while watching Netflix’s docu-series The Indrani Mukerjea Story – Buried Truth. It is rare for somebody to have not heard of the Sheena Bora case or of the people involved in it, especially since the case involves media magnates and a wealthy family. At one point in the docu-series, a journalist says, “There is no Kardashian family in India,” while attempting to explain where the public interest in this family came from.

This already hints at a troubling reality – this is after all, a show about a life that was lost. And once that reality sets in, so does the discomfort. 
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25-year-old Sheena Bora allegedly went missing in 2012. Her mother, Indrani Mukerjea (earlier assumed to be her sister) and her third husband Peter claimed that Sheena went abroad to study. One person who didn’t buy into this version of events is Sheena’s fiancé, Rahul Mukerjea (her step-brother, Peter’s son). The most compelling parts of the docu-series are the phone conversations between Rahul and Peter (and sometimes Indrani). 

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

A still from The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The biggest USP of the docu-series (and it’s one that the makers realise) is the access to Indrani Mukerjea herself. For the majority of the 4-part show (primarily episode 2 and 3), viewers get to hear her story. The two other people who share most of the screen time are her children Mikhael and Vidhi. While the docu-series, for the most part, tries to keep its storytelling as balanced as possible, there are times where I felt like it was kinder to Vidhi than it was to Mikhael.

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There is also the matter of the background music. Before I delve into this, I’d like to confirm that I viewed the entire docu-drama as objectively as possible. When Indrani’s lawyer is first seen on screen, the background music sounds like we’re watching a superhero or saviour on screen. In contrast, during a recreation featuring ‘Rahul’, the music sounds almost comical; like something to not be taken seriously. 

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

A still from The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

At other points too, when an actor is recreating ‘Rahul’ as phone calls play in the background, bottles of alcohol and snubbed out cigarettes populate the frame – painting a version of Rahul that he probably had little hand in. These are parts where it’s important to remember that while we expect objective truth from the docu-series format, sometimes fiction can creep in, especially in a case where it’s difficult to point out what is truth, half-truth, and lie. 

The docu-series doesn’t, however, shy away from presenting evidence. Most interview segments are followed by media reports that speak of developments in the case – most times, these two segments contradict each other. The people on camera are also frequently questioned, presenting a more holistic idea of the versions we’re listening to.

The series also hints at a possible cover-up, talks about Peter Mukerjea’s connections, features harrowing allegations against Indrani’s father, and even hints that the latter controlled people around her with money. 

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As a show, it is good TV (and I say this keeping aside my views about the ethicality of this content). It leans into the absurdity of the case and never lets you rely on one testimony for too long. It holds on to key evidence till the last episode, clearly to keep the viewers watching. 

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

A still from The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Speaking of the show’s structure, something stands out. Most docu-series, or content in genre, tend to take two routes – one is to show interviews followed by archival footage and recreations and another is to take a more candid look at their subjects. While The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth, seems to fit into the first category at first, it soon shifts to the second. This shift, that happens in the middle, feels jarring. 

This is perhaps also why some scenes feel unnecessary to the show – for instance, the shots of Indrani’s daughter Vidhi on a beach to one of Indrani herself staring into the distance on her balcony. 

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The show is also clearly trying to create a ‘figure’ out of Indrani Mukerjea (more than she already is). It helps that she knows how to work the camera. Dressed impeccably, she answers a variety of questions and even lobs accusations (including saying unsavoury things about people in her life and claiming that Sheena Bora is ‘definitely alive’). 

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

A still from The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

While I understand the lens of the docu-series, considering the way it is named, it is impossible to talk about this without the name ‘Sheena Bora’. Regrettably (and I am struggling to figure out if this is a personal opinion), Sheena Bora the ‘person’ feels absent from the show. Speaking of Rahul’s testimony, someone points out in the show that he would keep bringing everyone’s attention to Sheena; to the fact that a life was lost. While we see Sheena in pictures and hear of her in memories, it is difficult to truly form an image of the person behind them. 

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The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth is more riveting than a lot of true crime docu-series out there for this very reason – almost everything feels authentic. Consider Indrani’s lawyer asking her to “Chill,” for instance or the way Indrani says, “alleged,” when the lawyer names her first husband as Sheena’s father. Mikhael's testimony, especially, feels raw.

‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth’ is streaming on Netflix.

A still from The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

One thing is clear – the docu-series leaves enough space for the audience to form their opinions….once again going down the route of becoming judge and jury to strangers’ lives while relying on information that is fed to them. You will, as a viewer, have to figure out whether to focus on the ethics or the quality of content. 

This docu-series, directed by Uraaz Bahl and Shaana Levy, takes you into a web of information and leaves you at the very centre to try and claw your way out. Considering the ethics (I clearly can’t separate it from the content), the fact that they do it well only makes the whole thing more macabre. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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