Ponty Chadha, Sheena Bora, Jiah Khan, Sunanda Pushkar, Rizwanur Rahman and Neeraj Grover—the connecting factor for each of these high-profile personalities is the unsolved mystery behind their deaths.
Shantanu Guha Ray, a journalist for nearly three decades, brings to surface the lives of these six people—and three others—and the stories behind their murders in his new book Found Dead.
An experienced journalist, Guha Ray mentions the "C Umbrella" concept that the media thrives on—crime, cinema and cricket, which never fail to attract fabulous TRP ratings.
What works in favour of the book is the selection of stories—nine sub-judice cases which shook the nation because of the nature of the crimes.
For instance, the Jiah Khan case, which revolved around an actor with a not-so-successful career and her alleged boyfriend who was then struggling to find his feet in Bollywood, or the Sheena Bora case which raised eyebrows of many over the fact that a mother was allegedly involved in the murder of her own daughter.
Guha Ray says that he did extensive research before sitting down to write. "In order to tell the stories, I have had to delve into their lives, interview several friends, members of their respective families, police personnel, lawyers, doctors, forensic experts, media persons and even anonymous sources," he writes in the book.
The book cuts short the long episodes broadcast on news channels or carried in newspapers and chronologically presents incidents in each of these cases in a crisp manner. The twists and turns of events manage to grip the reader and maintain suspense, making it an absolute page-turner.
"Every single case in this book manifests our innermost fears—if this could happen to them, then however much we may claim to be part of the so-called great urban Indian phenomenon and feel secure in possessing the capabilities of recognising the signs of an imminent danger, several of us unfortunately still remain vulnerable," he writes in the book.
Why only these nine cases? Guha Ray says that most are centred on the need to appropriate—love, passion, material acquisitions and money.
"The dramatis personae may belong to a different class, the crimes committed may be better executed and large amounts of money is obviously spent in hiring the best legal help, but the emotions of hate, fear, horror and loss remain common to the kernel of a crime," he maintains.
An important case that went missing from the book is Aarushi Talwar's murder and Guha Ray says this is because he thinks that the entire evidence got lost and the media was split into two groups: The ones that believed the parents and the others that didn't.
By Shantanu Guha Ray
Published by Westland
Price: Rs 299