In 2013, Jeethu Joseph's Drishyam set the box-office in Kerala on fire and led to remakes in several languages. Amateur criminal minds, however, have time and again been inspired by the film's plot where a man successfully makes a body disappear after his family accidentally ends up killing him.
The latest instance is in Thiruvananthapuram, where a woman was strangled to death three months ago. The Kerala police has now reportedly solved the crime and arrested the deceasedâs 40-year old husband - Prem Kumar - and his partner Sunitha Baby.
According to the investigating team, Prem Kumar confessed to the officers that in order to begin an unhindered life with his partner Sunitha, the two of them had murdered his wife Vidya and covered their tracks by taking âinspirationâ from the 2013 Mohanlal-starrer Drishyam, directed by Jeethu Joseph.
Speaking to TNM, a police officer from the Udayamperoor police station in Ernakulam revealed that the 40-year-old accused had always remained on the list of prime suspects in Vidyaâs murder. However, it took the investigating team three months to firm up their suspicion and arrest him on Monday.
This is hardly the first murder in Kerala to have been inspired by Jeethuâs monster-hit film which documents the âperfect crimeâ. Over the years, several murders have been carried out in the state with the accused attempting to hide or erase evidence in Drishyam style. But while the fictional Georgekutty (Mohanlal) and his family may have created elaborate foolproof alibis for themselves and hoodwinked the police, in reality the Kerala force have, with relative effortlessness, nabbed several of these Drishyam style murderers, with Prem Kumar allegedly being the latest on the list.
Covering his tracks, Drishyam style
According to the police, Prem and his partner Sunitha Baby had murdered Vidya in a villa in Thiruvananthapuram on September 21. The two had allegedly invited her to a private villa in the capital city, served her alcohol and then strangled her to death after she was inebriated.
Following this, the duo allegedly disposed the body in a forested area in Vallioor village in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.
âOn September 23, two days after Vidyaâs death, Prem filed a missing complaint in the Udayamperur police station,â the officer from the station told TNM. According to reports, in an attempt to throw them off his tracks, Prem had also told the officers that he believed Vidya, a Cherthala native who had been living with him in Udayamperoor for the last few years, had left to Goa to visit her son from a previous marriage who studied there.
On tracing Vidyaâs phone, police officers also discovered that Prem and Sunitha had allegedly switched on her phone and left it inside a waste bin in the Netravati Express which plies between Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai, similar to the scene in the film where Georgekutty switches on Varunâs phone and throws it into a moving truck to avoid being tracked down by the police immediately.
The Udayamperoor police traced the deceasedâs phone all the way to Mangaluru and claimed that Prem had confessed to have disposed the phone in the train.
The 40-year-old had allegedly committed the murder to be with his high school sweetheart Sunitha Baby, whom he met three years ago during a school reunion in Thiruvananthapuram. The two of them met after 25 years and within the next few months, Sunitha left her husband, three kids and a nursing job at a hospital in Hyderabad and shifted to Thiruvananthapuram. The duo then lived together in a rented apartment in the city, the officer added.
âVidya had been living in Udayamperoor then and Prem wanted to âeliminateâ any obstacle in the way of his new life with Sunitha and decided to murder her,â the officer alleged.
On Monday, the investigating team of the Udayamperoor police arrested the duo from their rented apartment in Thiruvananthapuram.
They have been charged under sections 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 202 (intentional omission to give information of offence), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 34 (acts committed by several persons in furtherance of common objective) of the IPC.
âThe body of the deceased has been recovered with the help of the Tirunelveli police and they have disposed it after due procedures,â the officer added.
Other crimes inspired by Drishyam
In October 2017, the body of Madhu, a native of Thakazhi in Alappuzha district, was recovered from a well near his house. After a six-month long investigation, the police arrested two men, Mobin and Linto, for the murder. According to their confessions to the police, the first accused Mobin had watched Drishyam a grand total of 17 times before disposing the body and hiding the evidence. Mobin and Linto had allegedly strangled Madhu to death after a drunken brawl and chucked his body into a pond in April 2017. Following this, they even participated in the inquest proceedings in the murder and Madhuâs funeral, according to reports.
In July this year, four men from Ernakulam were arrested for murdering a 20-year-old man named Arjun and misleading the police by tampering with the evidence. According to reports, the accused had taken a leaf out of Drishyam and thrown the deceasedâs phone into a moving truck. The body, which was tied with stones, was unearthed by the police 18 days later from a swamp in Nettoor and the four men were taken into custody.
Drishyamâs remakes in Hindi and Tamil too have inspired crimes in other states. In March 2019, the UP police cracked a sensational murder case in Rajkot, which involved the murder of a woman. Inspired by the Ajay Devgn remake, the five accused, including a local BJP leader, had buried the carcass of a dog and spread word that a human body had been buried in the spot. However, the police recovered the womanâs body from an under construction building in the neighbourhood.