‘Killer Soup’ is a Netflix series that introduces us to Swati and Umesh, who are having an affair behind her husband’s back. Swati is an unskilled chef who dreams of opening her own restaurant, a dream that her orthodox husband quashes. She hatches a plan to replace him with Umesh using murder and cosmetic surgery. Her lover would inherit his wealth, and enable her to pursue her ambition.
However, their plan doesn’t proceed smoothly, leaving them juggling a police investigation, a false identity, and increasingly suspicious relatives. Created by Abhishek Chaubey, Unaiza Merchant, Anant Tripathi, and Harshad Nalawade, the riveting narrative follows the couple as they comically scramble to iron over inconsistencies and dodge investigators. The black comedy of the series blends seamlessly with its extraordinary crime storyline, showcasing the extent to which one can go for love and ambition.
Killer Soup is Loosely Inspired by a True Story
‘Killer Soup’ is somewhat rooted in reality. The creators of the crime drama series have advanced it as being “very very loosely based” on a news headline. The particular news story the show alludes to is a murder case from the state of Telangana in the southern part of India, wherein a married woman and her lover’s conspiracy to murder and replace her husband, is uncovered by a bowl of mutton soup. In 2017, M Swathi Reddy, who was a nurse by profession, and her physiotherapist lover, Rajesh, put their audacious plan in motion by injecting anesthesia into her husband, Sudhakar, killing him using an iron rod with a strike to the head, and burning his body in the forest.
Such cases are heard of occasionally in the news, but this one gained infamy with what the conspirators did next. As per reports, Swathi poured a small amount of acid on Rajesh’s face and informed her in-laws that some thugs had caused it. When he was rushed to the hospital, the doctors suggested plastic surgery. In the hospital’s cafeteria, Rajesh was offered mutton soup, which he denied saying he was vegetarian. However, Sudhakar was non-vegetarian and the family members caught on to the farce. Adding to the unbelievability of the story, Swathi had allegedly been inspired by the Telugu film, ‘Yevadu,’ in which the protagonist is accidentally given a face resembling someone else’s after plastic surgery.
Swathi and Rajesh had even visited a plastic surgeon before the murder. The show takes inspiration from the shocking story, with its title, ‘Killer Soup,’ being a nod to the soup that helped catch a killer. The series’ lead, Swati, is named after her real-life counterpart. Talking about the news story’s influence, showrunner Abhishek Chaubey said, “The internet is rife with such Savdhaan India-type stories. My co-writers, Anant, Harshad, and Unaiza approached me with it. Mostly, when you get deep into such news stories, the reality turns out to be very prosaic and boring. Hence, we decided to not go into what really happened but think along the lines of ‘What if?’.”
He continued, “The inspiration came from an actual headline, but the series became kind of its own beast.” He added that he was most intrigued by the perpetrators actually thinking their plan could work, and infused that level of audacious thinking within the show’s characters. Bringing the show’s quirky humor to life are stars Manoj Bajpayee and Sayaji Shinde, who are working together for the first time, along with the prolific actor Konkona Sen Sharma. Reportedly, Sharma’s demeanor as her character was so lifelike on set that she received the nickname, “Shady Swati.”
Chaubey had previously worked with Sharma on ‘Omkara,’ and while writing the script for the series, had already envisioned the roles being essayed by their respective actors, confident they would say yes to his script. The series sees Bajpayee’s first performance in a double role. Although to the actor, it felt as though he were essaying three characters — Swati’s lover Umesh, the masseuse; Swati’s husband, Prabhakar Shetty AKA Prabhu; and Umesh, who is pretending to be Swati’s husband. Infusing further believability into the plot, each character exhibits substantial, almost comedic, flaws.
In the film, Swati wants to be a restaurant owner while being a talentless chef, while Umesh struggles with gambling and indecisiveness. Furthermore, Swati’s husband, Prabhakar Shetty, is written and enacted in a manner that embodies everything that today’s women hate. Set in the fictitious town of Mainjur, the series is loosely based on the 2017 Telangana murder case, with its core plot and characters inspired by the bizarre news story. As the narrative of ‘Killer Soup’ unravels, however, the tale drifts further from its real-life counterpart, with complementing themes and a slew of dynamic characters added to spice up the darkly comedic crime show.