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5 Indian Regional Language Films Based on Real-life Horrific Incidents of Crime

By: Antara Kashyap


Last Updated: July 25, 2020, 20:41 IST

Rakht Charitra, Atanka, Kalloori, Dhananjoy

Rakht Charitra, Atanka, Kalloori, Dhananjoy

This week, we recommend some of the most critically acclaimed regional films from the Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu film industries based on real-life horrific incidents of crime.

One often finds the world of true-crime inspiring cinema. We previously recommended the best Bollywood films that were based on real-life crime stories. This time, we dig deeper and bring to you, critically acclaimed regional films based on horrific real-life stories.


This 2017 Bengali drama directed by Aridam Sil and starring Anirban Bhattacharya, Mimi Chakraborty and Kaushik Sen in lead roles, tells the story of security guard Dhanajoy Chatterjee, who was convicted in the gruesome murder of Hetal Parekh.

Based on circumstantial evidence and Hetal's mother's testimony, Dhananjoy was tried and given the death sentence. He spent 14 years in prison appealing for justice, including to the President of India. Arindam gives a heartbreaking performance as the titular character whereas Mimi plays Advocate Kavya Sinha, who fights for his freedom.

Rakht Charitra 1 and 2

Ram Gopal Verma's Rakht Charitra series starring Vivek Oberoi, Abhimanyu Singh and Surya in lead roles is the real life story of gangster-politician Suryanarayana Reddy also known as Maddelacheruvu Suri (played by Surya), who was the key accused in the assassination of Telugu Desam Party leader Paritala Ravi (played by Vivek) in 2005.

The films, in gory details, show the chain of events unfolding due to two warring political factions in Andhra Pradesh. Many men from both sides of the rivalry were killed off, while Maddelacheruvu Suri himself was shot and killed by assailants in 2011. Suri is said to have watched the films before he was shot.


This 1986 classic is still regarded as one of the best works by Bengali director Tapan Sinha. Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Prasenjit and Satabdi Roy in lead roles, it is the true story of a teacher who witnesses a murder orchestrated by a group of his ex-students. He is then subjected to torture and harassment from his students who try to keep him from going to the cops.

With haunting performances, especially from Soumitra Chatterjee as the helpless aged teacher who battles his conscience and his family's safety, it is also a gripping thriller that will hold your attention to the very end.

Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha

This Malayalam mystery thriller written and directed by Ranjith is based on the first ever recorded murder in Kerala. Starring Mammootty in a triple role, along with Mythili and Shweta Menon, this critically acclaimed film won four Kerala State Film Awards including the Best Film Award in 2009.

The film tells the story of a woman who died under mysterious circumstances. The woman's in-laws claim that she died due to seizures, but examination of the body shows her to be raped and murdered. After three men are arrested and then released for lack of evidence, the case becomes cold and an unsolved mystery for 52 years after a police officer from Delhi returns to his village to solve the case. He was apparently born on the same day the woman was killed. This thriller is full of twists and turns and a must watch.


This 2007 coming-of-age Tamil drama by Balaji Shakthivel is based on the heartbreaking Dharmapuri bus burning incident that happened in 2000. Three college girls of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University were burnt alive after AIADMK members burnt the bus they had boarded to protest late TN Chief Minister J Jayalalitha's conviction in the Kodaikanal Pleasant Stay Hotel case.

The film stars debutants Tamannaah and Akhil, and tells the story of a group of friends in college, who take in the depressed new student Shobana (Tamannaah) under their wing. The film tracks the life of different members of the group and how they have different struggles and aspirations in life. Even though the film is based on a heinous crime of mob frenzy, it still chooses to portray the lives of the victims through their friendship, love and aspirations and not the tragedy that happened to them.