A chronicle of our times

August 28, 2015 12:14 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:30 am IST

Events as they have played out in the rapidly unfolding drama surrounding Indrani Mukherjea and her murdered daughter Sheena Bora, would put a Bollywood scriptwriter to shame. The story involves money, fame, love, secrets and a corpse, but these are not just the elements of a potboiler. Rather, they are striking pointers to a once-traditional society’s speedy metamorphosis into an acquisitive FMCG economy with its attendant attributes of obsessive ambition and ruthless self-indulgence. And like fast-moving consumer goods, this lifestyle too revolves around a use-and-throw philosophy. The personality of Indrani Mukherjea that is surfacing from media reports suggests a woman eager to leave behind the humdrum middle-class life of a homemaker in small-town Guwahati and transform herself into a jet-setting society lady in the country’s commercial capital. She appears to have had no qualms in abandoning her first husband and two young children in her search for the good life. Her second husband Sanjeev Khanna, too, was jettisoned quickly. He has said that they parted ways since he did not want to stop her from realising her ambitions. She then met future husband and former Star India CEO Peter Mukherjea, who finally allowed her to find the social reputation and wealth she sought.

It is interesting that Ms. Mukherjea’s chronicle and the new mores she could be seen as representing reject the one value so dear to old India — the sanctity of motherhood. Ms. Mukherjea is accused not only of abandoning her young children but also of strangling the daughter she thought might unravel her hard-won life of a social butterfly. And, in what appears to be an attempt to conceal her age and a humble past, she told her first-borns that she could not jeopardise her social status by revealing their existence and would therefore introduce them to the world as her siblings. Even more disturbing is the second motive that the police are suggesting for the brutal murder, that of money. If there is one thing that could be said to characterise the consumerist economy most, it is the insatiable hunger for more — more money, bigger cars, swankier homes, or more fame. And the newly emerging social praxis endorses individuals who show a single-minded determination to acquire all of this at any cost. But in this particular case, at least the avarice has culminated in a tragic denouement.

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