Murder Most Foul-1
On the front page of Mumbai Mirror the heading was "Will She Be Arrested Today?"
Who was "She?"
None other than Sudha, the reigning 25 year old Bollywood queen! A snap of her showing how terrified she looked was seen below the heading. The snap was from one of her films with a suspense theme!
She had been going through turbulent times of late.
The story below the heading was a discussion about whether she was getting arrested that day since their source was sure that the police had almost wrapped up the case against her.
The brief news item for the readers here is given below:
Sudhir, her ex husband had been missing for the past 20 days or so. They were divorced 3 years ago after having been married for about 3 years prior to that time.
The reason for divorce was given by her in the court as non compatibility. Sudhir was against the divorce since he said that he loved her dearly and that his entire world revolved around her only. But the case which went on for a few months went against him and the court granted divorce to Sudha.
Initially he argued valiantly through his lawyer to save his marriage with her. But as the case dragged on bringing out many unsavoury instances about their married life, he decided not to pursue the matter any more and agreed for the divorce.
He very clearly stated that "the many so called instances" given from her side were not true and were given as evidence with the only intention of tarnishing his image in front of the people. He said further that her lawyers were furnishing such "so called instances" without thinking since such instances also created a bad picture about her character in the minds of the public.
Since continuing the case would only spoil her reputation he did not want it. Hence he agreed for the divorce much against his wishes.
After the court granted the divorce the papers and film magazines wrote a few articles about her showing her in poor light. The press was obviously impressed with Sudhir's stand.
During the past one year or so initially there were whispers about her affairs with the handsome upcoming actor Pritam. Later on the news reports started giving more and more details about their clandestine affairs for the public's consumption.
The reports also mentioned that when Sudhir came to know about such matters he phoned her many times to try to advise her against such behaviour. But she avoided talking with him.
So he started visiting her house in an attempt to persuade her to stay away from males whether it was Pritam or anybody else. In the beginning she was willing to discuss the matter with him but later on she told him to mind his own business and not to bother her any more!
But some weeks prior to this news report when Sudha and Pritam were having lunch with some film party, Sudhir happened to visit the 5 star hotel. He had come to Mumbai to meet some party in connection with a very big construction project in Mumbai. His client had taken him to the same lunch section in the 5 star hotel where the film party was having their party.
Unexpectedly seeing her in the company of Pritam in the hotel Sudhir could not control himself and came charging towards her and made an attempt to discuss with her again to try and persuade her to stop her affair with him. Naturally she did not like it and so she told him not to bother her and shouted at him to get out of her life once and for all.
After they were arguing for some time in the presence of the embarrassed film party people, Pritam also started arguing with Sudhir telling him to forget the past and leave them in peace.
But Pritam's intervention made Sudhir very angry and he started shouting at him to mind his own business, to which Pritam replied with a mocking smile that it was his business only since he was planning to marry her in the near future!
This news made Sudhir furious and he started abusing Pritam and both of them started trading charges against each other for several minutes.
At the height of the verbal fight, unexpectedly Pritam landed a very heavy right hand punch on Sudhir's jaw which threw Sudhir some distance away from Sudha's chair.
Pritam was a well built man with a very strong muscular body having spent hours daily in the gym doing vigorous exercises. In contrast Sudhir was a thin bodied man not interested in doing any exercises.
Sudhir fell down on the floor heavily upsetting several chairs nearby.
He got up after a few moments slowly and unsteadily holding his hand kerchief on his heavily bleeding nose and mouth. His head was spinning since it hit against the heavy but spectacularly carved rosewood leg of the adjoining dining table and for some moments he could not stand still. So he sat down on a nearby chair.
An alarmed Sudha rushed towards Pritam and shouted at him to stop this nonsense. She was also concerned about Sudhir's condition asking him whether he was alright and requested him to move away from them.
The film party members from Sudha's side and the business people from Sudhir's side then took charge of the situation and Sudhir was taken away from that place.
A few days after this incident when news items began to appear that Sudhir was missing from home speculations started being aired hinting about various possibilities. The speculations grew grimmer and grimmer as the days passed.
When he did not appear for more than 10 days magazines started writing articles hinting that either Sudha alone or she along with Pritam might have done something terrible to him. They started asking uneasy questions as to whether they had arranged for his disappearance since he was proving to be a nuisance to them etc.
They did not say that they had plotted and kept him in captivity somewhere or done something worse than that but the thinking was pointing that way.
Sudhir's parents registered a missing person complaint with the police. When the police asked them whether they suspected Sudha and Pritam, they initially said that they did not suspect her.
But as the days passed they started telling the police that since Pritam and Sudhir had fought in the open they were concerned, again saying that they did not suspect any foul play from them.
Even though they had mentioned that they did not suspect any foul play from Sudha and Pritam the police met Sudha 3 times after the registration of Sudhir family's complaint with them. They also met Pritam a couple of times questioning him.
The first time they went to her house and asked questions in a polite manner showing all respects due to a famous star.
But in the second and third times they ordered her to come to the police station and they were more harsh and asked her pointed questions about what she or she along with Pritam had done to Sudhir.
After the police's first questioning she approached a very experienced and successful criminal lawyer to handle the case on her behalf. He advised her not to say anything to the police which may be used against her in the court and advised her just to say "No comments or ask my lawyer" to inconvenient questions.
Hence the sensational news heading on that day since the police felt that she was hiding something from them!
But there was a twist to the tale after the publication of the news when Sudhir's parents called a press conference in Ahmedabad to inform them that they did not suspect Sudha to have done anything in the matter.
They continued that just because she and Sudhir had arguments and fights it was ridiculous to say that she might have done something to him.
They said that she was a big star and so had her tantrums. She might be hot headed, short tempered etc, but she was a very nice woman, generous and kind hearted and a law abiding person.
She was not a criminal minded person at all and asked the police to leave her in peace. She was our daughter-in-law in the past and even though she had divorced their son, they still had a very good opinion about her etc.
But when the press asked them about Pritam they told them they did not know anything about him and hence they could not make any comments on that point. They said further that it is for the police to find out what happened and solve the problem.
The papers duly published the impression given by Sudhir's parents on the next day's issue.
On reading the news item, Sudha immediately flew to Ahmedabad along with her mother and went straight to Sudhir's house. When they opened the door and allowed her inside she immediately did a "shashtang namaskar" at the feet of Sudhir's parents crying uncontrollably.
Sudhir's mother took her inside, hugged her affectionately and told her that she was still their daughter-in-law in thought if not legally. So now she should think that she was their daughter only and not their daughter-in-law.
Sudha was hugging her tightly and alternatively crying and smiling, wiping her tears. Her mother also cried and felt relieved with their nice statements about her.
Even though nobody had invited the press, somehow they got scent of her visit to Ahmedabad and scrupulously followed her to Sudhir's house. After waiting impatiently for quite some time in the building compound, they demanded a joint statement from them.
Sudhir's mother asked the press reporters and photographers to come inside their flat and once all of them came inside, she hugged Sudha again tightly and told them "She is no longer our daughter-in-law but from now onwards she is our daughter".
The press published the photos the next day prominently of the two women hugging each other and crying.
So the questions were "What happened to Sudhir? Did his parents suspect that he was murdered? If so who had murdered him? If not, where was he?"
===============End of part 1================
Read Murder Most Foul - Chapter 2