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10/1/2016 Love/Death and Scandal in Bombay

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Love/Death and Scandal in Bombay


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ecent developments in the Sheena Bora murder case remind us that Mumbai is no stranger to lurid love/hate crimes, Shakespearean in scale and complexity. The details of
the Indrani Mukerjea case are well known and sketch a chilling portrait of an educated individual whose jetsetting aspirations allow her to allegedly indulge in horrifying,
cold-blooded, premeditated ᴀ밄licide.

Such cases contrast deeply to the crimes of poverty and desperation that are more commonplace.But Indrani’s case isn’t the only dark and dreary murder case to come from
the higher echelons of Mumbai. Here’s a throwback to the famous Nanavati case which took place in 1959. Unlike the Indrani Mukerjea case, the Nanavati debate had polarised public
opinion, with a lot of people supporting the culprit. Apart from its ability to grip a city and a nation with its sensational appeal, the cases had other things in common, not least of which
was the presence of counsel bearing the legendary Jethmalani surname. Ram Jethmalani rose to prominence as the prosecutor in the case, while his son Mahesh Jethmalani continues to
represent Peter Mukerjea – husband of the accused, while his associate Gunjan Mangla serves as Indrani’s lawyer.

On the afternoon of April 27, 1959 Commander Kawas Maneckshaw Nanavati stepped out of his home in Cuᴀ洅e Parade, Colaba, on a short but tragically momentous journey.
Along with him in his car were his English wife Sylvia, 30, and two children. An alumnus of the Royal Navy College in Dartmouth, the handsome, well-built and well-liked oᴀ甇cer
was second in command of the Indian Navy’s ᴀ밄agship INS Mysore. He had seen action on various fronts during WW-II, had been awarded many medals for gallantry and was
among those who were especially recommended by Lord Louis Mountbatten as the British marched out of India. Just 37, Nanavati, who, it would seem, embodied the ideal of
an oᴀ甇cer and a gentleman, had a lot to look forward to. But just before lunch that day, his world came crumbling down. Sylvia, whom Nanavati had met in England in 1949,
had confessed to him that she was in love with another man, a family friend called Prem Ahuja.

As he drove their car past the ᴀ밄shing boats at Badhwar Park, through the pong of drying ᴀ밄sh, and along Azad Maidan, Nanavati’s demeanour betrayed neither the humiliation
nor the vengeance-fuelled anger of the cuckold. As was previously decided, he dropped the kids and Sylvia at Metro Cinema for a matinee show of Tom Thumb. He then drove
towards Bombay Harbour where his ship was docked, informed the captain that he was leaving by road for Ahmednagar and requested him for permission to draw a revolver
and six rounds. He put the gun into an envelope and pointed his car in the direction of Universal Motors, a Willys Jeep showroom owned by Ahuja, on Peddar Road in south
Bombay. But Ahuja had gone home for lunch and was probably still there. Nanavati got back into his car and headed towards Ahuja’s ᴀ밄at in Setalvad Lane oᴀ洅 Napean Sea
Road, near Malabar Hill.

With wavy hair, thick eyebrows and an evolved sense of the sartorial, Prem Bhagwandas Ahuja cut an attractive ᴀ밄gure. Ahuja, 34, was an excellent dancer. He also had a
history of seduction and a penchant for bedding the wives of oᴀ甇cers in the Armed Forces. A regular presence at many of Bombay’s British-era clubs and Services parties,
Ahuja ensnared many a forlorn woman with his rakish charm. According to the Blitz, the racy left-leaning tabloid which folded in the mid-1990s, Ahuja was “a gay Lothario who
loved to graze in other people’s pastures. He had started his career as a philandering playboy rather early in life. Even in Karachi (the Ahujas migrated to India after Partition
and Ahuja stayed with his sister Mamie) he had run away and gone through a form of marriage with her…” It was also said that Ahuja, the recipient of many epistolary
dedications and photographs, never wrote to any of his lovers nor did he ever part with any of his pictures. Ahuja had just ᴀ밄nished having his bath when Nanavati was let into
his third ᴀ밄oor apartment by the housemaid. Nanavati walked into Ahuja’s bedroom and closed the door behind him. A little later, three shots rang out. Ahuja, clad only in a
towel, lay slumped on the ᴀ밄oor. Nanavati walked out of the apartment, past the anguished cries of Mamie. He then drove down Malabar Hill, asked a police constable at the
gates of Raj Bhavan for directions to the nearest police station and upon being directed, drove to the nearby Gamdevi Police Station to surrender himself.

The dramatis personae: Commander Kawas Nanavati, the cuckold; Sylvia Nanavati, his beautiful English wife; Prem Ahuja, the playboy paramour; Ram Jethmalani, the lawyer consulted
by the prosecution; Reginald Pierce, the only juror who voted against Nanavati 

The sequence of events triggered by Sylvia’s confession and which ultimately led to Ahuja’s death birthed an episode that is still unparalleled not just for the tremendous recall
it has 50 years since, but also because of the seismic impact it had on the psyche of the city and the legal system. Like similarly eventful and inᴀ밄uential trials across the world,
the Nanavati case had many layers. On the one hand, the case, involving as it did adultery on the part of a rich, beautiful blue-eyed woman from south Bombay and the
murder of her playboy paramour by her dashing husband, was salacious fodder for cocktail gossip, often fuelled by speculative reporting by tabloids and newspapers. It
stirred emotions, provoked moral judgments, caused a rift between the Parsi and Sindhi communities and bought terms such as ‘honour killing’ back into vogue. And yet, it­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 1/14
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also acquired the halo of a Greek tragedy. Here was Nanavati, an upright, accomplished naval commander undone by betrayal and an inability to rein in his rage. In public
trials held in Bombay’s raucous chai shops, genteel bars, and well-appointed homes behind Art Deco facades, Nanavati’s supporters, as a counter to those who proclaimed the
rule of law above all else, would have put this question to their opponents across the table: “What would you have done if you were in his shoes?”

For every man who had enormous faith in the codes that govern modern society, there were others who believed that Nanavati was an ‘honourable murderer’. In its two-and-
a-half year journey from the Greater Bombay Sessions Court to the High Court and from there to the Supreme Court, the dramatis personae ballooned from the original three
to include other prominent players, including lawyers like Ram Jethmalani, and the shadowy presence of Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru and V K Krishna Menon. And
perhaps, one should also add Russi Karanjia here. The ᴀ밄amboyant editor of the weekly Blitz, and friend to Nehru and Menon, among others, championed the cause of his
fellow Parsi, turned the murder trial into a ᴀ밄ght between the middle-class values of Nanavati and the bourgeois depravation of Ahuja, and put up an impassioned, though
biased, defence of the Commander. Here is P R Lele, Blitz’s constitutional expert, in a December 2, 1961 article headlined ‘The President must pardon Nanavati’: “If a member
of the Fighting Forces always has to entertain the fear that some moneyed and leisured man might be consoling his wife, in his absence, he will be more worried than if his
pay is not suᴀ甇cient to meet the regular expenses of his household… People want to ask the top authorities to consider what will be the moral eᴀ洅ect on those whom you invite
to join the Defence Forces if and when they observe that those in authority take a technical view of the invasion by the wealthy of their unprotected homes.”

Gyan Prakash, a professor of history at Princeton and the author of the upcoming Bombay Fables, calls the Nanavati case India’s ᴀ밄rst media trial, “its own ‘OJ case’ ”. “The lead
role here must be credited to Russi Karanjia. It was Blitz that turned this case into a trial of patriarchy and patriotism, and elicited the “people” on behalf of Nanavati. In terms
of media history, Blitz’s role was a pioneering one. In the age before television, it was the closest one would come to an image-saturated coverage.” Blitz, says Prakash,
covered the case with an abundance of photographs and graphic illustrations that imprinted the case as a picture in people’s minds.

By the time the trial came to a close in the winter of 1961 — Nanavati, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court, was suddenly granted a special pardon
by the government, but more on that later — the city was never the same again. Bombay of the late 1950s-1960s, says Prakash, was the twilight of the late colonial and early
post-colonial city in which the elite south Bombay social ideal still had some resonance. “The trial and particularly its sensational coverage by Karanjia, built on voyeuristic
interest, and the setting up of the “people” on the street, supposedly concerned over patriarchal and patriotic honour, against the “people” that the state represented in the
court, was of far-reaching signiᴀ밄cance. It showed in advance what was to come later — the populist mobilisation of the “people” on the street against the ideals of the liberal
democratic order in which the rational deliberations of law in the court were supreme.” The trial was also the last case in Bombay to be tried by a jury. The jury system was
abolished since it was believed that the members of the jury had been inᴀ밄uenced by the media’s portrayal of Nanavati as Subscribe
a martyr to the cause of honour.

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Mumbai Police Historian Deepak Rao

Mumbai police historian Deepak Rao calls the trial the “most prominent case in the city’s history”. Rao, 56, a tall, lean man with a walrus moustache and inquisitive eyes that
leap out from behind his brown spectacles, remembers how, as a child, he would listen to his parents and their friends animatedly discuss the minutiae of the case and follow
its twists and turns in the pages of the Blitz and Current. “The Raman Raghav case was a major one but this was a potboiler. There were all kinds of rumours about why the
government was supporting Nanavati, it was said that he was to be the commander of India’s ᴀ밄rst nuclear submarine and in possession of naval secrets,” says Rao. “It was the
talk of the town, from race-goers to members of posh clubs to the local pan-wallah, everybody had an opinion on it.”­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 2/14
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Like the Raman Raghav case, the Nanavati trial appears to be part of received memory for every Bombayite, even those from today’s generation, passed on father to son or
grandmother to grand-daughter. A Google search throws up, besides several articles on the legal ramiᴀ밄cations of the case, posts by bloggers revolving around the
recollections of their aged relatives, which elicit comments from readers who quote from inherited memory. Not too many know of its exact import, but like a myth the case
still shines in the gloaming of a receding collective memory.

On ‘Ankh’, a contributing blogger, writes, in a ‘sidelight’ to a post on the Nanavati case, “This case is some kind of a legend in my family. My grandmother, then
working for Tata Steel, went during her lunch hours to see the trial in action. I used to love hearing all her stories about the handsome Commander Nanavati. (Methinks she
too was smitten).” Fashion photographer Farrokh Chothia is, by his own admission, a “Nanavati case junkie”. He’s read up on every available piece of literature on the case on
the internet, wants to, when he has more time, access court documents relating to the case and encourages people like this writer to tell the story of the Nanavatis to a new
generation of readers. “To me, Nanavati was this cliched, Elizabethan character suddenly hurled into this dramatic turmoil and I try and put myself in his place,” says Chothia,
who, for a while during his childhood, used to stay near Setalvad Lane. “I suppose my interest in the case is also because of nostalgia. Bombay, in the 1960s, was a diᴀ洅erent
place, with diᴀ洅erent value systems and maybe, also because Nanavati was, like me, a Parsi.”

The trial inspired several books, ᴀ밄lms and plays, including Indra Sinha’s (right) The Death of Mr Love, (left) Ami Natya Velar, a Konkani play


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Gulzar’s Achanak starring Vinod Khanna

The case also inspired many interpretations, both literary and celluloid. If R K Nayar’s Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke (1963), with Sunil Dutt playing an Indian Air Force pilot, Leela
Naidu as his Paris-born wife and Rehman as her paramour, turned out to be a typically oblique Bollywood attempt at portraying a real-life incident involving adultery,
Gulzar’sAchanak (1973) ended with an open-ended question. Ranjeet Khanna (Vinod Khanna), a much decorated major is hunted down by cops for the murder of his wife (Lily
Chakraborty) and her lover. Khanna, who is badly injured during the course of the pursuit, is nursed back to health by Dr Chaudhary (Om Shivpuri). As Khanna is led away to
the gallows, the credits roll with Dr Chaudhary mouthing a rhetorical ‘why?’ Author Indra Sinha’s The Death of Mr Love (2002), built around the case, introduced a ᴀ밄ctional tale
about a second crime linked to the ᴀ밄rst that destroys the life of another of Ahuja’s lovers, while Nanavati even makes a cameo as ‘Commander Sabarmati’ in Salman Rushdie’s
Midnight’s Children. And until as recently as 2006, Ami Natya Velar, a Konkani translation of a Kannada play written by Ramachandra Churya, used to be regularly staged by
theatre troupes in Mangalore. Daya Victor Lobo is among the many directors to have staged the play. The message he sent through his interpretation of the play? “Society is
responsible for the welfare and well-being of the families of oᴀ甇cers in the Armed Forces.”

Having outlasted his wife and with his children in the United States, John Lobo, 84, spends his time listening to the melancholy sighs of the sea from the balcony of his ᴀ밄at that
overlooks a wave-battered promenade in Bandra, Mumbai. In the late 1950s, Lobo, a diminutive matter-of-fact man, served as one of the city’s several deputy commissioners
of police. He was also the man Nanavati surrendered himself to. Fifty years ago is another lifetime for Lobo, but, aided by my photocopy of a chapter of his memoirs, Leaves
from a Policeman’s Diary, he determinedly pieces together a bygone era, imploring his memory to throw at him scraps of his own past.­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 3/14
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On the evening of April 27, Nanavati, unfamiliar with the location of the Gamdevi Police Station, drove up to the residence of the naval Provost Marshal, a Commander Samuel,
and called out to him from downstairs. When Nanavati told him of the shooting an alarmed Samuel asked him to head straight to the Commissioner’s oᴀ甇ce at Crawford
Market and meet Lobo. At around 5 pm that day Lobo got a call from Samuel, which was followed by another call from an inspector of the Gamdevi Police Station and so Lobo
was already expecting Nanavati.

“His was an imposing ᴀ밄gure and he had the air of a man used to giving orders. ‘I have shot a man,’ he told me,” says Lobo. “Nanavati turned pale when I told him that the man
he had shot was dead. He then asked for a glass of water.” Instead of the police lock-up, which housed “ordinary felons and criminals”, Nanavati was accommodated in one of
the oᴀ甇ce-rooms which was where Sylvia would often meet him. “We were witness to some of their meetings and there were attempts at reconciliation as well. Nanavati
mostly stayed quiet. I remember Sylvia once telling them to “let bygones be bygones”. Lobo remembers Sylvia, as “a very attractive lady,” who used to attend the trial daily.

As Nanavati adjusted to a new reality, the great wheel of Bombay’s law and order apparatus started turning. Lobo got several calls that day from the Navy’s lawyers asking him
to hand over custody of Nanavati, but he stood his ground (later, though, he was remanded to naval custody). The crime scene, Ahuja’s apartment at Jeevan Jyot building,
swarmed with police oᴀ甇cers and newspaper staᴀ洅ers, as idle crowds milled outside. In his book Lobo writes: “On the ᴀ밄oor (of the room) was laying the empty brown envelope
bearing the name of ‘Lt.-Commander K M Nanavati’. The evil that men do lives after them — it leaves ‘footprints on the sands of time’. Two spent bullets were recovered but
there was no trace of bullets having ricocheted oᴀ洅 the walls. The assailant had surprised his victim and done a quick job.”

For the rest of the duration of the trial Lobo met Nanavati just once and that was on the day he testiᴀ밄ed against him in the Sessions Court. “He was being led into the
courtroom and I told him that I was sorry but I had to testify against him. I think he simply said, ‘Don’t worry about me, just go and do your duty.’ He was a ᴀ밄ne man, who just
happened to do the wrong thing.”

The Nanavati trial began in the court of city sessions judge R B Mehta the next month. Karl Khandalavala was the defence lawyer, and assisting him were Rajni Patel, who was
to later become a prominent Congress politician, and S R Vakil. The public prosecutor was Chandu Trivedi and Ram Jethmalani was retained by Mamie to assist the
prosecution. (Jethmalani’s ‘watching brief’ meant that while he could advise the prosecution, he could not speak in court.) The chosen jury was cosmopolitan and comprised
two Parsis, one Anglo-Indian, one Christian and ᴀ밄ve Hindus. While Jethmalani’s role in the case remained of a consultative nature throughout, he would play a decisive role,
both during the trial and after it. The case also marked a watershed in his professional life. Jethmalani was an upcoming lawyer when he was handed the ‘watching brief’, the
ensuing two years saw him consolidate his place in the country’s legal ᴀ밄rmament.

A remote relative of Ahuja, Jethmalani says he met him at a party about a week or two before he was murdered. “I don’t think he just slept with the wives of senior naval
oᴀ甇cers, he must have also bedded the wives of the Army and the Air Force chiefs,” says the former Union law minister who, at 86, views the case with detachment and often,
mild amusement.

Since Nanavati had already confessed, the trial hinged on one crucial point: on whether it was a case of murder under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code or culpable
homicide not amounting to murder. The former would invite a life imprisonment or death sentence, while in the case of the latter, there was a maximum punishment of ten
years’ imprisonment. If the defence lawyer could convince the jury that his client had acted under a grave and sudden provocation, Nanavati could get away with a lighter term
or even get oᴀ洅 scot-free.


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Russi Karanjia, editor of Blitz which was ᴀ밄rmly behind Nanavati

With the newspapers, especially the Blitz, whipping up emotions, support for Nanavati was strong, particularly and naturally
* the Parsis, and young women. In his book
Lobo writes: “Not only did they overᴀ밄ow the restricted accommodation available in the courtroom but large numbers, particularly of the fair sex, lined the route around Flora
Fountain as the van carrying the prisoner drove up to the court. Understandably, their sympathies were with the unfortunate naval oᴀ甇cer. Flower petals and currency notes
were thrown by his admirers.” There were reports in the Blitz of lipstick-smeared 100-rupee notes ᴀ밄oating gently down on Nanavati every time he left the Sessions Court and
about how he received marriage proposals from infatuated women, who hoped for a ruling in his favour, a divorce from Submit
Sylvia and marriage with him thereafter. Later on
during the trial, when Sri Prakasa, the then governor of Bombay, decreed that Nanavati should be put under naval custody and his life sentence suspended, the powerful Parsi
community closed ranks and over 8,000 people gathered at the Cowasji Jehangir Hall in south Mumbai, as a show of support.

On the ᴀ밄rst day of the trial, Trivedi, who also happened to be Jethmalani’s friend, bungled. He horriᴀ밄ed Jethmalani by delivering a “totally diᴀ洅erent opening speech” than the
one prepared for him by the latter. His remarks, recalls Jethmalani, made it look as if he were arguing on behalf of the defence. “At the end of the day I told him, ‘Chandubhai,
I’m not coming to court again’,” says Jethmalani, who ultimately gave in to Trivedi’s whiny persistence and assumed charge once again. (Apparently, Trivedi acted as he did
because he had been assured Nanavati would plead guilty and that getting a conviction would be easy.) After Trivedi presented his witnesses, including forensic experts, the
defence opened their counter with Nanavati himself occupying the witness box. Dressed in full naval regalia, Nanavati told the judge that his gun had accidentally gone oᴀ洅
during a scuᴀ甇e with Ahuja and that if he had really intended to kill his adversary, it would have taken him just one bullet and not three. He was followed by the eminent
surgeon Dr A V Baliga, whose turgid proclamations were intended to establish a case of accidental ᴀ밄ring and rubbish the evidence presented by forensic experts. Baliga,
though, later wilted under Trivedi’s relentless cross-examination, which was orchestrated by Jethmalani. As the trial neared to a close the prosecution, with its contention that
the oᴀ洅ence was premeditated, appeared to have the upper hand — there was a gap of three hours between Sylvia’s confession and Ahuja’s murder.­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 4/14
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On the ᴀ밄nal day, judge Mehta discussed the evidence with the jurors and waited for them to reach a conclusion. The jury’s verdict was ‘not guilty’, by a majority of eight. Only
one person dissented. Jubilation surged through most of those present in the courtroom and the crowd gathered outside. The case would have been considered closed had it
not been for the courageous judge Mehta. After the exultations of triumph from Nanavati’s supporters had abated, Mehta announced that he did not accept the jury’s verdict
and deemed it perverse. He referred the case to the Bombay High Court, where after reviewing the evidence, the judges upheld the verdict of the Sessions Court. Nanavati,
who was sentenced to life imprisonment on March 11, 1960, then appealed to the Supreme Court. But, and we bypass a sea of legalese here, Jethmalani’s and Trivedi’s ship of
reason sailed through. The SC dismissed the appeal and conᴀ밄rmed the sentence of life imprisonment in November 1961. Karanjia went into overdrive and ᴀ밄red one volley
after another, including printing a mercy petition in the December 2 edition of his paper. As things stood, Nanavati was heading towards a life behind bars, but unbeknownst
to him, a twist in the story was being given shape. It was a development that would see Jethmalani using his persuasive powers yet again, this time to free Nanavati.


Vijayalakshmi Pandit, then governor of Bombay, who pardoned Nanavati

The destinies of men often intertwine in the strangest of ways. As Nanavati languished in prison, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, who became governor of Bombay in 1962, received a
mercy petition ᴀ밄led by a Sindhi leader, Bhai Pratap, in March that year. Pratap, whose businesses included the import of sports goods, had been imprisoned for the misuse of
the goods. “It was an absolutely fake case,” claims Jethmalani, “and the two bureaucrats (B B Paymaster and R L Dalal) scrutinising the case found Bhai Pratap to be innocent.”
Jethmalani says that the plan that was to unfold in the next few days could possibly have been Paymaster’s, on account of his being a Parsi. What the government, still under
pressure from various quarters to release Nanavati, wanted to do was simple: pardon Nanavati, and then, to appease the Sindhi community, pardon BhaiPratap as well.

Towards the end of March, on a typically muggy Bombay evening, Jethmalani opened the door of his Panchshila apartment in Cuᴀ洅e Parade to unexpected visitors. Among
them was Rajni Patel, the defence lawyer in the case, and Sylvia (“She was a looker!”). “Patel told me that the government wanted to pardon both Bhai Pratap and Nanavati. All
I had to do was convince Ahuja’s sister Mamie.” It was political expediency at its best, but Jethmalani did his bit. He convinced Mamie. Both the accused were pardoned soon

As always there are stories within stories. In the case of the Nanavati trial, one among them is that of Reginald Pierce and it is a story that has seldom been told. Pierce was the
odd one out among the members of the jury that found Nanavati innocent, the only one who remained impervious to the blinding power of emotion and said, plainly, that “He
did it.” I met him last month at his home in Bandra, Mumbai. Pierce is 102, but is probably the ᴀ밄ttest member in his family. He has a head full of noble, silver hair, still goes for
his evening walks around his Mount Mary neighbourhood and was impeccably dressed for a dinner he had to attend. The secret of his longevity, says his son-in-law Alex,
could be that “he never lies”. Pierce was selected as a jury member after he responded to an advertisement in The Times of India and he still recalls the “ferocious attitude of
his counterparts”. They had no honour, he says. “They were tremendously against me and berated me relentlessly after I had made my stand clear. If the crowds outside had
known who the lone dissenter was, they would have lynched me. But I saw the evidence and it was apparent that he killed Subscribe
him.” Then, he asks me about the whereabouts of
the Nanavati family. I tell him of the family’s migration to Canada and of Nanavati’s death in 2003. “He was a ᴀ밄ne fellow, very intelligent. I knew I was condemning him but
rightfully. I think he was an honourable murderer, but a murderer all the same.” Want to receive your copy of MW at home every
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A month or so after he was pardoned Nanavati left along with Sylvia and their children for Canada. They never Bombay again nor have they, as far as I know,
spoken about that tumultuous episode in their lives to anyone. The Nanavati trial, though, keeps surfacing in the Indian media every decade or so, as it does now, on its 50th
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anniversary. But I often wonder what Sylvia, now a sweet, portly granny, would have to say if she ever chooses to speak about the case. We will never know, but I suspect that
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deep down she sees what a lot of us never have. That, in spite of love, betrayal and death, the noise and the fury, and all those mighty men the trial involved, it was also,
perhaps, a story of letting “bygones be bygones”.

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September 7, 2015 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-14552)

Pierre Francis

I’d heard so much about the Nanavati case but never knew the details. Until now. This article is exhaustive, lucid, and if I may dare to use the word, entertaining; journalism at
its best.

September 6, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24368)


Well…everyone wants to earn their own bread by many ways…take journalism in this case but, believe me this case was really exclusive one. And I don’t doubt the ability
and hinesty of the editor of Blitz.
Parsi community has really really been very faithful to the history of India and so far it is.
It is a very calm, peaceful and patriot community. I always respect Parsi for that.
If you can, just watch the movie called “Rustom” which is released recently in the Bollywood. May be that would lit some interest to know the whole truth.

February 29, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-19122)


A very good piece of journalism

I remember my grandmother telling me about this case when I as a child in Bombay and also about the lawyer Karl Khandalavala
I met Kawas and Sylvia in Toronto in the early 1990’s – I was introduced to them and it only registered that this was the famous Nanavati, after I returned home. As the saying
goes, time waits for no man, and both Kawas and his wife looked just like ordinary and quiet retirees – would could not guess that these were the same two individuals that
had caused such a stir in Bombay during that time…

August 14, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23701)


Hi David,
Could you share more on your meeting with the Nanavatis ? Did they appear to have been at peace with their past ? Not a voyeuristic inquisitiveness but to understand
how lives change

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July 3, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-22157)
Rohan K Soyaliya (http://rohan.soyaliya) Fields marked with an * are required
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described greatly,
ᴀ밄rst time got to know about nanavati case
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July 10, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-22402)
Vibha Chopra

Hi, my name is Vibha and I have read so much about this case …. And so touched by Sylvia …. And what she did for her husband back then and her lover for him. I see David
you mentioned you met with them. I am trying to meet with her. Are you aware of her ware abouts. Please email me if you have any information would really appreciate it.­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 7/14
10/1/2016 Love/Death and Scandal in Bombay

July 16, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-22695)


Very nice and informative .

Keep it up.

July 24, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-22942)


This is such a brilliantly written article!

I’m in love with the sheer ᴀ밄uidity and authority with which you write.

August 3, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23317)


One of the best articles I have ever read…An awesome piece of journalism, takes one to the thrilling potboiler Nanawati covering and highlighting all the relevant details
through all angles while keeping one glued to it…Congratulations..

August 8, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23519)


A ᴀ밄ne pice of writing

August 12, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23661)

rivu ghosh (http://google)

yes it is true bit why involved all man all ways , the woman behind the provocation never account,we should change our attitude and after seventy years is passing with this
country why not now stand for actual fact and cause.thinks again……
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August 12, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23664)
rivu ghosh

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yes it is true but why all the man in all the ways ,why do not account the woman provocation and destroy the whole world of a man irrespectively we ate passing through
seventy years of independence but still under the clutch of mind set what is the right attitude to make your way or to judge and del the right thing …..thinks again


August 13, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23682)

aswathi raj

Such an amazing piece of journalism

Ever since the movie trailer was out I wanted to know more about the case..
Instead of reading thousand bits of info..this one really did its work­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 8/14
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August 14, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23692)

Pradeep R Singh (

indeed well written well covered,article. I remember i was ten year old my dad was a lawyer and would often hear bits of the case.Well today after reading the article my
memories revive.

August 17, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23795)


Fantastic article. My mother used to tell me about this case.

August 17, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23800)

rakesh sinha

Very well written & ineresting to read the mysterious killing of adulterous man.

August 18, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23811)

Aman singh

It was just awesome article by any media or any press I ever had on internet ….it was quite good information and it also tell us more and more. Other than Akshay Kumar’s

August 20, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23886)

kadian (

Sylvia Nanavati, now 85 years old, lives in Burlington, Ontario.

I tried google search with : “Sylvia Nanavati +Burlington” Subscribe
And it shows her name in the list of people donations to some hospital and also her name in auditors ᴀ밄lings.
Just wondering whether did they actually had Swiss Bank account as shown in the movie ? Want to receive your copy of MW at home every
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September 6, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24369)
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Swiss bank account was accounted for to make the movie interesting I guess.
Indian Naval Oᴀ甇cer Kawas was one of the honests and patriots commander of India.
But I can visualise the real case wouldn’t have been less interesting and breath holding than the movie itself Submit

August 21, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23918)

Prannoy Chauhan

You Guys gave life to a story which was unknown to the young generation like me…..thanks….and Shri Nanavati Ji I salute you from my heart that you gave your half life for
Indian Navy….and showed that true love was never dead….Jai Hind­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 9/14
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August 21, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23936)

Rina Mukherji

Nice article. Only-Cuᴀ洅e Parade did not exist in 1959. The area was reclaimed at least two decades later, to make way for a concrete jungle of skyscrapers.

August 21, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23938)


@ David.
Hi, it’s one of the most interesting stories ever heard, just ᴀ밄nished watching the movie Rustom too.
I was just wondering what did Cdr K M Nanavati do in Canada after leaving the Indian Navy.

September 6, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24415)


I know he had to start from the starting, Maybe did some course in Unvi.

September 8, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24489)


@Haren. KM Nanavti was a realtor/broker in Canada. Even his son followed in his footsteps as well. He is also a VP of some company. The other son was a teacher. KM
Nanavati’s granddaughter works in Cineplex

August 22, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23969)

Nitin Malhotra

This article satisᴀ밄ed my urge about this case after watching Rustom. Thanks Subscribe

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August 22, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-23976)
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This is the most informative article,amongst all that I have learned from other sources .each and every person is well described including that single jury person who was
against nanawati…..good Email *


August 25, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24034)

Ashlok Kumar

thanks for giving information­death­and­scandal­in­bombay­nanavati­case­inspired­film­rustom­the­real­story/ 10/14
10/1/2016 Love/Death and Scandal in Bombay

August 27, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24082)

Ritesh Mahajan

Your article on this particular case was even better than the movie I just saw….i was hooked on to it…wow.
It had nostalgia….No words!!!

August 28, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24127)

B Ram Mohan Reddy, Advocate

I am stunned with the narration. I was just 8 years old in 1959. My friend older to me by 7 years now informed that he used to read the daily trial details in the blitz. My heart
goes for Sylvia and Nanavati for how they lived together despite so much drama they underwent. Uᴀ洅!

August 30, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24172)

james (

I was 10 yrs old and I knew of Comd. Nanavati from my uncle who served with him on the INS Mysore (India’s’ Flagship). My uncle went on to serve on the 1st Indian Aircraft
Carrier ‘Vikrant’. The naval oᴀ甇cers were a tight community and I recall collections being made for Nanavati’s defense fund. My dad who was an oᴀ甇cer at Tata Steel was a great
supporter of Nanavati and joined his colleagues in raising money for Nanavati’s defense. An old friend of Dads, K.A. Abbas (a talented writer) from the Bombay Talkies days
wrote ‘The Last Page’ for Blitz, which channeled the feelings of most Bombayites that “Ahuja had it coming”, bolstered the campaign in favor of the release of Nanavati.
The Sindhis as a community were considered untrustworthy, dishonest and crooked in their business dealings and they drew little sympathy for the killing of one of theirs. I
believe the conviction of Comd. Nanavati was just and the Pardon considerate and compassionate. The Indian judicial system worked well and for the largest Democracy in
the world it was a ‘Red Letter Day’.

September 3, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24263)


One of the best written articles I have read this year. Great job!


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September 6, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24367)


I’m curious to know what exactly happened in the bedroom of Ahuja.

I am also trying to ᴀ밄nd out contact deails of the editor of Blitz.
I read this case on the internet after watching the movie” Rustom” since I could not stop myself by digging out more information about the whole incident.
I also doubt if Nanavati killed Ahuja for his deeds only or there was something big buried on the name of this aᴀ洅air.

September 10, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24531)


Even I am so curious as to know what really happened in Prem Ahuja’s bedroom. I also want to read Slyvia’s love letters for Prem Ahuja. I can also ask KM Nanavati’s kids
or their granddaughter. I have actually found her on facebook. I highly doubt they will reply back to me on facebook.

September 8, 2016 (ᴀ밄lm-rustom-the-real-story/#comment-24491)


@Vibha what was touching about slyvia actions. Wondering what was it man!!! She ruined so man lives and you have respect! God women!!!! Save us

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