‘Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery’ is an Indian Hindi-language comedy film that follows the police’s investigation into a case of two jackfruits that have been stolen from a local politician’s house in the town of Moba. The lead investigating officer on the case is Inspector Mahima, who has recently been assigned to Moba. But what starts off as a simple and comedic case of theft soon turns into a real problem for Mahima as she is pressured to close the case as soon as possible because of its sensationalization in the media.
Directed by Yashowardhan Mishra, the Netflix film features the talents of Sanya Malhotra, Anant V Joshi, Gurpal Singh, Neha Saraf, Rajpal Yadav, and Vijay Raaz. As bizarre as the story of ‘Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery’ sounds, such cases have been reported all across the world in the past. So, is the film based on one such case? Read on and find out!
Is Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery a True Story?
Yes, ‘Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery’ is a true story. The film is loosely based on the real-life case of stolen jackfruits from a Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Indian Parliament) Member of Parliament’s residence that transpired in June 2014. The story, co-written by director Yashowardhan Mishra and his father, Ashok Mishra, follows the events of the case with more than a few creative liberties. The real-life case of the stolen jackfruits was first reported by Indian news publications on June 20, 2014.
As per reports, two jackfruits were stolen from Mahendra Prasad’s bungalow on Tughlaq Road in New Delhi. Prasad, an MP belonging to the political party Janta Dal United, discovered that two of the nine jackfruits hanging from the jackfruit tree in his garden were missing. He immediately informed his personal assistant, who in turn filed a complaint with the Delhi Police. For their part, the police dispatched a team of over 10 officers, consisting of personnel from their fingerprints bureau and the crime investigation department.
The team searched all over the garden for clues and even discovered a few fingerprints that were used to determine the path the thieves might have taken. “Close inspection of the crime spot and investigations led us to a trail of footprints. The footprints, measuring approximately six inches, appears to be those of children who may have jumped the fence to steal the fruit. But it raises serious questions about the security at the bungalow,” one of the officers at the crime scene told The Indian Express.
While the case remains unsolved to this day, with no suspects ever having been found, it is nonetheless an actual event that has been carefully cataloged in the Delhi Police’s files. ‘Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery’ is a satire that focuses on the people behind such cases, their personalities, and idiosyncracies to present a humorous watch for people of all ages. The story follows a similar series of events as the true incident that inspired it up until the start of the police investigation. Everything else that follows in the film is completely fictional, including the characters and the town of Moba itself.
“The observation, the kind of humor which is very much observational, trying to find characters from reality–from real life [that] bases a lot of research that Ashok ji [his father] follows, [and] has been following since the very beginning and that is a process which I have inherited in ‘Kathal,'” said director Yashowardhan Mishra, in an interview with CNN-News18, on the writing process and characterization in the film. He also revealed how, besides him, the cast also visited several police stations in order to gauge how the police operate and the kind of people who don the police uniform.
Adding to it, actress Sanya Malhotra spoke about how she and Yashowardhan shadowed a female police officer for a day to get a better understanding of how to approach her role as Inspector Mahima in the film. “When I was approaching that character, um, I had a very masculine image of Mahima; and-and I don’t know, maybe it’s the uniform that I wore, but I wanted her to walk in a very, like, strong [way], and that’s what I thought she should look like. But it’s after I met the inspector — that I met in Gwalior — I realized that she had a very gentle approach towards her job…,” said the actress
She added, “…and she looked very, like, feminine, and I think she was a very big source of inspiration for me, and how I wanted Mahima to look like.” Thus, we reiterate that ‘Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery’ uses the real-life case of the stolen jackfruit to highlight the abuse of power that some politicians indulge in — using the police and other executive bodies of the government to fulfill their own, often frivolous, needs. It also comments on the role media and modern-day journalism play by covering such cases, rather than focusing on news that would actually benefit society, in order to get more views.
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