27 January, 2021

Bad Art, Worse Life

Murdered poet Madhumita's story reads worse than any sordid soap opera Updates

illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Bad Art, Worse Life
The tragic saga of murdered Lucknow poet Madhumita Shukla appears to be a real life soap opera that shames the reel stuff. Ambition, poetry, adultery, murder, lies, politics and cover-up combine to make a melodramatic Molotov cocktail of life in India's emerging fast lanes. As the media unfolds one juicy detail after another, it becomes difficult to sift fact from fiction, gossip from reality. The sordid tale leaves nobody or nothing looking good—women, poetry, politicians, police—all look smeared in dirt.

Let's take women first. The victim appears to have been a dynamic social climber looking for short cuts to fame and money. Sure, she took the responsibility of looking after her family when her father died. But many Indian women have taken on similar burdens without adopting her tactics or her route. Reports say she mingled with Gorakhpur's politicians and criminals, staying with them in five-star hotels and hill resorts, using her charm to further material and marital goals. "Affair with a married man"; "jet-setting as minister's wife"; "seven months pregnant when...


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