House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths: An over-dramatised docuseries on a family tragedy
Netflix's latest docu-series "House of Secrets" dwells deep into the sensational case in Delhi where 11 members of a family in Burari were found dead in their house in 2018.
Their deaths led to many speculations. Political groups in India tried to highlight it as a murder, while some Indian media tried to sensationalise the news by staging weird conspiracy theories starting from the alignments of pipes to release the souls to the influence of "Tantrik Maa" in the death case.
The police officers and the investigators were dumbfounded by the death of Chundawat family. There was no sign of forced entry, nor were they suffering from any financial strain or debts. The only thing police found suspicious at the spot where the burned ashes of last night rituals and also pair of diaries which gave them clues to unravel the real mystery behind the deaths of an entire family.
Directed by Leena Yadav of Parched (2015) and Rajma Chawal (2018) fame, the docu-series has been divided into three parts- "Bodies", "Diaries" and "Beyond 11".
The docuseries uses archival footages, recreated sequences and testimonies by experts to conduct a kind of social autopsy of what was going around the mindset of Chundawat family. The series also showcases interviews of the relatives of the dead in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.
The second episode "Diaries" reveal that the family believed that their youngest son Lalit was possessed by the spirit of his dad and that he would write instruction for the family to obey other wise they would face punishments for their mistakes.
The neighbours and relatives were baffled as to how two 15-year-old boys and two 25-year-old women unquestioningly obey such dangerous commands.
Everybody was shocked that 14 days prior to their death, his family threw a lavish party of their eldest daughter Priyanka's engagement. A 25-year-old MBA graduate who was working in an MNC company to go through with a dangerous ritual that could take their life simply on the basis of blind-faith, seemed absurd.
The neighbours found the dead bodies of the family members tied with colourful ropes around their neck. The members were instigated by the youngest son Lalit to perform a 'badd puja'—a religious ceremony invoking a banyan tree.
The diary instructed the family members that if they perform the ritual they will be blessed with immense luck and they don't need to worry about death as they will be saved by the soul of the grandfather.
"House of Secrets" portrays the "Why" and "How" of the Burari death case, but does not give it a proper ending. Although a line-up of experts dissects Lalit's psychology and the family's dynamics, in the end, one is left with more questions than answers. The makers also could have edited some of the repetitive statements which kind of made the episodes a little boring.
Questions like why no one even bothers to take Lalit to a psychologist when he stopped speaking for a year, or why we automatically accept and obey an order just because it is stamped with a religious lens stays, even after multiple watches. Why are we, as a society, are instinctually driven to hide the said 'abnormalities' in our households?
Another similar incident happened in Bangladesh, were nine members of a family committed suicide in front of a speeding train in Mymensingh in 2007.
The case became famously known as "Adam Family", as they believed that would return as "Adam" in their next life. The family comprised of members aged between nine and sixty years old.
Ironically enough, the family members also left diaries to reveal the actual reason as to why they committed suicides. Apparently they wanted to live like "Adam and Eve", by freeing themselves from bondage to any religion.
"Punorjonmo" director Vicky Zahid also announced recently through a Facebook status that he is working on a project based on the "Adam Family", and that he has already written the script for it.