“Dancing on the Grave”

Shakereh Khaleeli was described as “rich and beautiful” and belonging to one of the “most aristocratic families” in southern India, yet she tragically vanished in 1991. For three years, her second husband – Murali Manohar Mishra, who went by Swami Shraddhananda – made up stories about her whereabouts. It was only in 1994 that her remains were excavated from beneath their Bengaluru home after Shakereh had been drugged, forced into a wooden casket and buried alive. In 2003, the trial court convicted Shraddhananda for her murder and issued him the death penalty which was later confirmed by the High Court. The courts found that he had married her for her wealth and properties worth billions of rupees. However, it was ultimately commuted to life imprisonment without remission by the Supreme Court-describing it as a case of “a man’s vile greed coupled with devil’s cunning”.

Picture : TheUNN

Recently, there has been renewed interest in this tragic story due to Amazon Prime Video releasing a four-part web series called “Dancing on the Grave” – derived from reports that Shraddhananda held dance parties over Shakereh’s grave. Chandni Ahlawat Dabas of India Today Originals Production states that “despite being 30 years old, we felt that this was a crime that needed to be shared because it’s such a mystery even today”. After immersing viewers into Shakereh’s life with its first two episodes (granddaughter of Sir Mirza Ismail- credited with building several landmark buildings and monuments; fashionista who drove vintage cars), the docuseries next looks at shocking circumstances surrounding her murder- namely how someone so affluent could have been swayed by Shraddhananda despite his lack of social background or magical powers claims.

Throughout investigations and trials which lasted thirty long years, Shraddenanda continuously insisted on his innocence. Now while viewing Dancing on the Grave you may be grappling with doubts- however producer Patrick Graham asserts “we hear his side of the story more so because we never heard from him in past three decades…and moreover he gave us invaluable insights into Shakereh’s character”.

Through interviews with jail inmates and drawings done by Shraddenada himself revealing intricate details about his lifestyle during imprisonment; one single question comes to mind- did he commit this heinous act out of an innate desire for power? Or is he truly innocent? The show does not definitively answer this query however questions posed are undeniable refreshing compared to regular true crime episodes where criminals come across as geniuses – something Schradenada can categorically be excluded from due to playing psychological games as evident when producers claimed they were done getting swayed by him after having robust conversations leading up to his rant about being innocent aboard unjustly treated.

This series is sure to captivate audiences across all ages offering suspenseful flashbacks while ultimately concluding “with viewers drawing their own conclusions” just like eight judges did before them- sentencing Shakereh Khaleeli’s murderer thirty long years ago.

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