Netflix: A bone-chilling 2018 Burari incident left countless Indians in a state of deep shock. A family of 11 members were found hanging from the house’s ceiling under mysterious circumstances. Everyone had just one question in their minds, “why”. The only one in the family who survived was a dog; found tied on the terrace. The crime scene showed no sign of foul play. In this article, Ektaa Malik, special correspondent with the Indian Express shows where did the series fail to do justice as she reveals Netflix’s trending docu-series House of Secrets The Burari Deaths. The series would stream, trend, and do well on any one of the OTT platforms we have in total given the plot of the series. The story is no work of fiction but is based on real life incident that gave India shock waves in 2018 as the Chundawat family’s mass suicide grabbed all the headlines.
A normal, well-functioning family kills itself by hanging themselves from an iron grill under their own roof. The three-part docu-series on Netflix, titled ‘House of Secrets The Burari Deaths’, is directed by leena Yadav. She has earlier worked on some feature films such as Parched and Rajma Chawal in the past. The docu-series, right from the beginning, emphasised on the sheer absurdity of the incident; and narrated the ‘shock’ value of the entire incident. You will find many facts via testimonies of experts, crime reporters who were reporting for their respective channels and law enforcement officials.
‘There was something wrong’, ‘this was different’, ‘we never witnessed such a crime scene before’, were some of the phrases we kept hearing from the ones who were interviewed. The director used all these tools combined and hooked the audience early on. The basic facts of the incident were, however, known to us already.
One good thing about this whole docu-series was the usage of archival media footage, and some recreated sequences and testimonies by experts that made us feel like we were walking through the bylanes of Burari. There was an overall scary build-up. The show didn’t show actual footage or pictures of dead family but the experience was quite chilling nonetheless. From highlighting many conspiracy theories that hovered around that time, to revealing the facts and truth, the docu-series did a great work of fiction, backed by a well-written screenplay, writes Ektaa Malik of the Indianexpress.com.
Most of us for the entire time thought that it was family’s youngest son Lalit who initiated the mass suicide attempt. The docu-series however comes with a big reveal that gives us goosebumps.
The series is well-executed and made well backed by good storytelling. But where the entire docu-series fails is raising the appropriate questions, especially after the big reveal.
The hand-written notes in 11 diaries showed that Lalit used to be ‘possessed by the spirit’ of his dead father and that’s how the said possession would impart certain dos and don’ts for the family. The words that would come from the ‘spirit’ were the word of law for the Chundawat family. Nobody would dare to question those words. And as per those words of law , the family attempted a ‘badd puja’ — a religious ceremony invoking a banyan tree, that led to the ultimate demise of the entire family.
The friends and neighbours who were interviewed extensively for the docu-series had no idea of these religious views and angels. They were not aware of the ‘family dynamics’ of the Chundawats. There are also some links to mental health and how Lalit’s ‘psychosis’ unfolded this unfortunate tragedy.
OTT platforms were meant for content like House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths, where creators can tell stories in different formats. This docu-series is a good beginning even though its execution at some point. Ektaa Malik of the Indian Express writes that,” one might have a couple of sleepless nights after watching it, and be riddled by the urge to always look up as you enter a room, recreating the mise-en-scene from the Burari crime scene”.