It was my first month in a newsroom when the Burari case unfolded in July 2018. Mayhem in the newsroom, never-ending theories, and shocking twists followed for the next few days. Like most news breaks, this one too, soon died down and I forgot about it, until the House of Secrets: Burari Deaths made me sit up, take note and question my own beliefs all over again.
The Netflix Limited Series, directed by Leena Yadav, traces the horrific incident that occurred in the summer of 2018, when 11 members of a household were found hanging in North Delhi’s Burari. Instantly, there were speculations of occult rituals, murder, suicide and more. It played on primetime news on all channels, the area was cordoned off as people thronged to get a glimpse of the site.
The Netflix series starts off by revisiting the incident in all it’s gory, shocking details. They unravel minor details of the incident through interviews with cops, investigators, journalists, family members and neighbours. Through recreations and detailed first-person accounts, it tells the story we all knew, with more depth and nuance.
The makers of the show have gone to a great extent to get almost all possible stakeholders on camera, beyond the usual few cops and journalists. It seems to be the usual through the first and second episodes, as they explore why the incident had happened and how it all came to light. A seemingly happy, cohesive family choosing to tread down this path, was shocking to everyone.
The docuseries also touches upon how sensational the media made the incident, even though it somewhat follows a similar narrative itself, till the second episode.
The highlight of the show is the third episode, where it explores the bigger sociological and psychological concerns that the episode brought to light, which were never discussed as much as the incident itself.
It delves deeper into the family’s lives, revealing details that hadn’t been prodded upon before. It unearths old incidents, and occurings that perhaps had a large role to play, but weren’t investigated enough.
In the third episode, the show zooms into the larger problem surrounding the stigma around mental health. Even though everyone notices changes, they prefer to not reach out. It also looks at Indian family structures, and how much it strives to not let secrets of the house ever get out. It’s oddly relatable, the way it’s presented.
The focus shifts beyond the deaths, to the ones who were connected to the family, and the scars they continue to bear. From the area getting a bad name, to memories cherished to unanswered questions, family members, friends and relatives continue to be haunted by what they’d witnessed.
The show asks one important question, why more conversations didn’t happen about the Burari incident, and what exactly happened, beyond just the horror of it. It strives all through to answer this question in multiple ways, but it is perhaps best summed up by a psychologist, that we have to maybe live with the fact that there are no straight answers.