The most commendable achievement of Leena Yadav in House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths is the way how she designs a trajectory that makes the viewer contemplate more about the social and family structure rather than just being curious or shocked about the incident. Indeed the whole event and this 3 episode long documentary is a chilling experience. But with a perfect unraveling structure, Leena Yadav and Anubhav Chopra manage to make you a responsible onlooker rather than those viewers who consumed the masala-coated TRP news.
The documentary is about the infamous Burari mass suicide that shook the capital back in 2018. Eleven members of one family committed suicide on June 30th, 2018. The visuals were so horrifying that even those who were used to seeing the aftermath of murders and suicides couldn’t believe their eyes. The investigation faced major roadblocks with no proper evidence of murder and common sense not letting anyone think it was a suicide. How the case eventually got cracked is what we see in House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths.
I haven’t really followed this case back when it happened, and if you are also someone who doesn’t have much idea about the incident, it will be better if you do your research after watching this riveting documentary. There is a point where Barkha Dutt criticizes the media’s lack of follow-ups because the sensational part was no longer there. This documentary series wins you over because of the way it deep dives into the possible reasons. Despite knowing who the mastermind is, the documentary keeps us invested in learning more about what made that person do that.
Mental health and how society deals with people who have mental health issues is one significant aspect of this series. The reason for this cult formation and manipulation is explained to us through the family’s life events. Even though at one point, the documentary tries to frame a particular person as the mastermind, it goes further to the story of that character alone to help us understand why that person behaved like that. Proper treatment for PTSD would have actually saved 11 lives.
In terms of the craft, Leena Yadav approaches the story very straightforwardly, and then she decides to branch out the subplots. Through the first episode that has the first reaction of all the neighbors and officials, Leena creates that curiosity in the viewers to know more about the family. And in the second episode, we are given a little more hints about what could have happened, and also we get to know the history of the family members. By the time it reaches the third episode, the focus is on the dilemma inside the minds of the investigating officers, which is a gigantic “why?” Yes, you can consider the documentaries template as a typical one, but that doesn’t reduce its impact.
The fact that something of this nature happened in the heart of the national capital and the people who got convinced to take their own lives where all these well-educated ones make this case an absolute shocker. The show does create discomfort emotionally simply because of the fact that what we saw wasn’t a movie plot. In some ways, House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths works as an alarm for society to acknowledge mental health issues more openly and empathetically.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended