‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story’ Review: Netflix Documentary Unintentionally Critiques Mainstream Journalism


The Indrani Mukerjea Story, the true crime documentary series that was supposed to be released on Netflix on February 23, 2024, quickly delayed its release date after the CBI filed a petition in the Bombay High Court because the case is still on trial. Then some kind of special screening was probably arranged for the CBI, you know, to make sure that there weren’t any discrepancies. So, the miniseries missed its release date and was put up on the streaming platform on February 29, 2024. It came with a humongous disclaimer, basically stating that nothing from the miniseries should be seen as an opinion regarding the innocence or guilt of the people who are in the documentary. Hence, it is kind of pointless to talk about the case, not just because of the disclaimer but also because it’s a wholly uninteresting topic that has been inflated for the sake of TRPs. That’s why I’ll be talking about the documentary’s unintentional commentary on the state of mainstream journalism.

Just to give you all an idea of what The Indrani Mukerjea Story is, the docu-series is centered around the titular woman, who was once married to Siddhartha Das, then to Sanjeev Khanna, and then to Peter Mukerjea. Her son and daughter from her first marriage were Mikhail and Sheena Bora. Her daughter from her second marriage was Vidhie Mukerjea. She didn’t have any children with Peter, but Peter had two sons from his first marriage, Rabin and Rahul Mukerjea. Indrani lied to everyone about her dynamic with Sheena and Mikhail and presented them as her siblings. Rahul apparently fell in love with Sheena, and they got engaged as well. However, as the truth about Sheena and Mikhail’s true identities started to come to the surface, something happened, and Sheena went missing. Indrani was accused of murdering her with the help of Sanjeev and her driver, Shyamvar Pinturam Rai. And the documentary essentially brings all of these pieces together for an audience that wasn’t subjected to this “saga” for around a decade in the name of mainstream journalism.

There’s not much to say about the “plot” of The Indrani Mukerjea Story other than giving my opinions on the morality of the people presented in the documentary and then speculating about who is telling the truth and who is lying. But that seems like an incredibly pointless exercise because, unlike good documentaries about interesting topics, the documentary series has nothing much to say other than what you can see on the surface, and what it says doesn’t speak to me in a thought-provoking way. That said, due to the hubris of its makers and producers, they do expose the state of mainstream journalism in India and show that news channels and the people of India will prioritize disgusting drama centered around upper-class and upper-caste people rather than listen to the voiceless minorities who rarely get their day in the sun. To be specific, the journalist named Sahil Joshi states, very casually, that since India doesn’t have a show like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, they gravitate towards cases like this. I don’t want to point out the obvious to Sahil, but I have to because, classist and regressive as the Kardashians may be, that show isn’t centered around the murder of a family member.

The makers of The Indrani Mukerjea Story unspool the narrative in the most cliche fashion possible—reenactments, talking heads, and news clippings. But if you focus on those last two things, you’ll see that, instead of taking clips from every mainstream news channel, only one channel hogs the limelight. Yes, that channel has co-produced the documentary series, and this is an extended advertisement for them. However, I guess they are under the impression that by using every clip in their inventory in the docu-series, they are displaying their exemplary journalism. The sad reality, though, is that, by doing so, they are merely exposing the fact that they have spent so much time on a nothing-burger story. Ideally speaking, a news channel is supposed to educate its viewers, make them privy to the important stuff that’s going on in the country, question those irresponsible people who are holding positions of power, and put a mic in the middle of the masses so that they can express their grievances. What the hell is 24×7 unfiltered coverage of an unsolved murder that may have or may not have taken place within the upper echelons of society supposed to do for the common folk? If the answer is anything other than “timepass and living in ignorance,” you are lying.

The state of mainstream journalism is in shambles. There’s a very direct connection between what the mainstream media shows us and what the powers that be want us to see. Right now, it mostly oscillates between fluff pieces, outright propaganda, or unsolved murder cases. It’s like a cycle that goes on just so that the stories that matter can be kept out of focus. If we don’t see anyone questioning the rising prices of everything, the horrors that are being inflicted upon minority communities, the state of education and employment, or the protests that are happening against all of this, and only get glorified advertisements or a juicy story about the misery of some super-privileged people, we’ll be detached from reality and think that everything is actually fine. In that case, even if the road leading to the neighborhood market is filled with garbage, we won’t think much of it because we’ve been convinced that that’s not worth thinking about. All we need to do is get through the day and be ready for the entertainment that comes with prime-time “news.” And while that has become the norm and is beyond questioning, I’m genuinely appalled that the showrunners thought that they could do that again by repackaging an irrelevant story as an uber-serious documentary, and nobody would notice it.

At this point, I don’t know if it’s ironic, funny, or just plain sad that the producers of The Indrani Mukerjea Story have decided to release it on Netflix while they drip-feed some kind of a wedding event of the wealthiest family in the country like it’s the most important thing that’s happening. This documentary and the wedding shouldn’t matter to us because we are neither a part of the murder investigation nor are we getting invited to the wedding. Documentaries and news reporting are meant for topics that matter and topics that speak to a wide audience about a common issue that’s plaguing them or unearth an important story that has been buried underneath the sands of time. The very existence of this documentary series and the fact that it’s backed by people who are crippling the collective IQ of its audience feels like an insult. Go and watch documentaries like All That Breathes (it has been selected by Criterion recently), Writing with Fire, In the Name of God, Final Solution, Vivek (Reason), and 1232 KMS. Those need and deserve your attention, not this nonsense.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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