Docu-drama series House of Secrets on shocking deaths of 11 members of a family in Burari streams on Netflix
New Delhi, October 13, 2021
Three years ago, the shocking suicide deaths of 11 members of a family in Burari in North Delhi shook the country.
The true case of the 11 deaths in the Chundawat family in 2018 forms the subject of a new docu-drama House of Secrets, which is being streamed on Netflix from October 8.
The three-part series is an attempt to answer questions surrounding the deaths as it takes viewers through the Delhi Police investigation into the complex realities behind the case.
The bodies were found in the early morning of July 1, 2018. Ten family members were found hanging, while the oldest member, the grandmother, was strangled.
The police ruled the deaths as mass suicide with an angle of shared psychosis being investigated.
The Chundawat family had been living in the double-storeyed house in Burari's Sant Nagar neighbourhood for around twenty years, after moving from their native town in Rajasthan. The family included Narayani Devi, 77; sons Bhavnesh, 50, and Lalit, 45; daughters-in-law Savita, 48, and Teena, 42; daughter Pratibha Bhatia (née Chundawat), 57; and grandchildren Priyanka (daughter of Pratibha), 33, Nitu (elder daughter of Bhavnesh), 25, Monu (younger daughter of Bhavnesh), 23, Dhruv (youngest son of Bhavnesh), 15, and Shivam (only child of Lalit), 15.
Bhavnesh's elder son had left home three years prior and so was spared.
The docu-series examines chilling truths and theories around the deaths, which psychologists claimed were the result of a "shared psychotic disorder" in which members of a group blindly trust one among them and follow instructions without questioning.
Investigation revealed that in 2007, Lalit Chundawat's father Bhopal Singh died of natural causes. After the death of his father, Lalit became very introverted, and soon he started praying in front of trees, and offering food to animals. One day, he told his family that he was possessed by his father’s soul, who advised him the ways to attain a good life. Since 2013 he had been maintaining a diary on his father’s instructions.
Psychologists feel that Lalit suffered from a "delusional disorder".
Police found eleven diaries in the house, all of them maintained for the period of eleven years.
Directed by Leena Yadav and Anubhav Chopra, with an original score composed and produced by A R Rahman and Qutub-E-Kripa, the docu-series is set to take viewers into a world with many layers.
Yadav said, “Working on this docu-series has in many ways redefined me as a film-maker. This case is one of a kind that brings to the surface some unfathomable truths of society, truths that need to be confronted and discussed. Exploring the case threw up many pertinent questions and revelations about the times that we live in. I look forward to presenting through this docu-series a case that is much more about ‘us’ (society) than ‘them’ (the family).”
The original score of the docu-series is composed and produced by the widely acclaimed A R Rahman.
Talking about the idea of collaborating with Rahman, Yadav said, “A R Rahman coming on board to design the score of the series was like an endorsement to the relevance and urgency of exploring this case. Working with Rahman Sir on ‘House of Secrets’ has been an extremely enriching experience for me as a film-maker. It’s such a joy when you find a collaboration that not only elevates the story-telling but also teaches you many lessons along the way. I think the music that Rahman Sir scored has given the series not just a mood, but also an enormous emotional depth. I find it very difficult to be articulate about music - It’s emotional, a feeling. And yet he would understand and translate it into stirring soundscapes. Having a great artist like him leave his footprints on our telling of this complex case has been an honour.”
Rahman said, "Collaborating with Leena Yadav ji on House Of Secrets was a unique experience for me. Since the docu-series concerns a sensitive, complex issue, it required a distinct, nuanced musical approach -- enigmatic yet gripping. I am glad to have worked on such a project, which so far has been an unexplored territory for me."