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Exclusive! Indrani Mukerjea on Sheena Bora murder: ‘I was labelled as social climber & a monstrous person’

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Exclusive! Indrani Mukerjea on Sheena Bora murder: ‘I was labelled as social climber & a monstrous person’

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with Firstpost’s Lachmi Deb Roy, Indrani Mukerjea opens up about her book Unbroken, the process of writing the book, the deep rooted bias against ambitious women and more.

Lachmi Deb Roy Last Updated:August 15, 2023 08:18:03 IST Exclusive! Indrani Mukerjea on Sheena Bora murder: ‘I was labelled as social climber & a monstrous person’

Indrani Mukerjea’s book Unbroken

Every story needs to be told, and here is one woman’s story, like no other – tumultuous, full of courage and teeming with the timeless themes of love, relationships, betrayal, grief and most of all, human resilience. Unbroken, published by HarperCollins India, is the story of Indrani Mukerjea, in her own words, for the very first time.

Dark Chocolate was a Bengali crime thriller based on the Sheena Bora murder case. In an interview with Firstpost, Indrani not only talks about her book, but why she felt important to tell her side of the story. She has been labelled as a social climber, but she refuses to apologise for her choice of clothing which many felt were used to lure powerful men. Similarly, she mentions that she would also not apologise for embracing her attractiveness as a woman. She believes that boss ladies shatter glass ceilings while enduring the weight of gender bias at work, turning obstacles into stepping stones on their path to success.

 Edited excerpts from the interview:

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 What was the process of writing the book?

It was organic for me. Like I have written in the book, the one thing that you have ample time in prison so, writing was therapeutic for me. At a point of time, I was going through so much that the only way for me to make sense of it was to write. Then it took its own course and was whipped into a book after I came out of prison. Words have the tendency to heal. And that’s what the process of this book was for me. It helped me heal. It helped me process everything that has happened to me in the past few years.

Why do you feel it is important to tell your side of the story?

Having a voice is like having agency, as I have come to understand through my experiences. When I say “voice,” I’m just referring to being heard. I am not sure if people understand that they have never heard my side of the story from me. Everyone claims to know me and know what I am like, I was painted across newspapers and news channels, but who knows my story?

Now, I feel empowered and capable of making my presence known in the world. After my bail; a sufficient amount of the real story is out there. I can now assert my opinions and share my thoughts. Having a voice allows me to advocate for myself and stand up for what I believe in, not just for myself but for others as well who stand there incarcerated by the system with no one to fall back on.  My voice will now be a tool for collaboration, empathy and to foster a sense of community.

Tell us a little bit about your side of the story – the misogynistic environment that you had to deal with from the beginning?

 There is no doubt a deep-rooted bias against ambitious women. However, I refuse to apologise for my choice of clothing, particularly my sarees, which some claimed were intended to lure powerful men. Similarly, I will not apologise for embracing my attractiveness as a woman. Unfortunately, since my arrest, I have endured relentless attacks from all directions. I have been subjected to degrading comments and accusations, ranging from being labelled names, called a ‘social climber’.

The most absurd of all was the ludicrous allegation that I am a monstrous person who could harm her own daughter. These baseless claims only reflect the misogynistic environment that persists in society, attempting to undermine and discredit successful and empowered women. I came to understand that people will act in their own ways, but I must remain positive and confront the challenges ahead. To achieve that, I recognise the importance of forgiveness towards others and choosing a constructive approach in my actions.

How did people react to your arrest, especially your family and employees?

The revelation shocked many, especially those who knew me well and understood that such actions were not in my character. Unfortunately, some individuals saw an opportunity to exploit the situation. Surprisingly, it was not just men but also women who attempted to drag me down. The day I was arrested, people from various aspects of our social circle descended upon me, ready to attack. Throughout my years in Mumbai, I had never felt animosity directed at me, probably because I always focused on my own endeavours and work. I was known as the hardworking girl who left home early each day, with no intention of turning back. My determination led me to hustle and work tirelessly to build my life independently. Peter, too, was equally dedicated, and together, we created a comfortable life. Our marriage was born out of love, but when that love faded, I made the tough decision to leave him.

As a boss lady, what were some of the recurrent hurdles that you had to go through? 

Boss ladies shatter glass ceilings while enduring the weight of gender bias at work, turning obstacles into stepping stones on their path to success. That’s what I did too. I encountered scepticism and many doubters questioned my capabilities solely because of my gender. Women are expected to be less assertive, less competent, or less decisive than their male counterparts. People tried to undermine my leadership and decision-making abilities. I faced micro-aggressions and subtle forms of discrimination that tried to chip away at my confidence. I battled dismissive attitudes, but I am a fighter who wouldn’t give up. I persevered. The ‘old boys’ club’ mentality couldn’t limit me because women don’t work for themselves but to serve as an inspiration for future generations of women and create a more inclusive and equitable work force for them.

You were reported as saying that Sheena Bora was your sister – what was the truth and what led up to the situation in your opinion?

 I have written all about Sheena and my relationship in the book. I am a woman ahead of my times and I don’t think I had the authority to live my life with the freedom I deserved. But I make no apologies about any of my life decisions!

Your childhood days – could you talk a little about the struggles and how it helped shape you into the person you are now?

I had a great childhood. I loved studying. I was a great student. I loved my friends. Some time in my teenage years, my life changed too much. But because of everything I went through, I became the person I am. I am a fighter who wouldn’t back down no matter what happens.

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