‘Murder In Mahim’ 2024 Review: A Mediocre Series That Tackles Homophobia In A Subpar Manner

Murder in Mahim, the book by Jerry Pinto, was popular for a reason. It was one of those books coming from an Indian author that threw light on a subject that was hardly covered by many authors back in the day. Using the book as the source material, JioCinema Original brings the audience the brand-new show Murder in Mahim, directed by Raj Acharya, released on the streaming platform on May 10th, 2024.

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The series begins with the murder of a gay sex worker inside the toilet at the Mahim railway station, and the case is assigned to Shivajirao Jende. A retired journalist, Peter Fernandes, and his wife, Millie, suspect their son Sunil might be gay, are finding ways to accept it, and want to have a conversation with him. The death of the gay sex worker led to a series of murders, as each death directed the police toward the next target. Firdaus Rabbani, the new police officer with the Mumbai Police, is a closeted lesbian and has a hard time coming to terms with how her peers and colleagues treat or refer to people who are from the queer community. Peter and Shiva have had a shaky past, as they parted ways as friends over a major controversy. After many years, they come together to solve the series of murders and are keen to find out if Sunil has any connection with the people who’ve been murdered. Was the murderer someone from the queer community or someone no one expected?

Murder in Mahim answers these questions through the eight episodes. The saddest part about the show has to be the surface-level treatment of homophobia and how it is rampant in every section of society. The dialogue is preachy and not heartfelt. The generalization of the queer community and how they are misunderstood is presented most superficially. The writing was banal, and it will not generate any discourse about the treatment of the queer community at the hands of family, workplaces, and others in society. The makers of the show stuck to safe options instead of offering a layered and complex narrative about the kind of fear gay men and women, along with the transgender community, go through daily just existing in society.

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The whole idea of bringing the murder into the picture was to address Mumbai being a cosmopolitan city as a façade. Since this was set in 2013, a few years after the Delhi High Court decriminalized same-sex relations, the presence of homophobia could have been explored in a nuanced manner. The tackiness of handling the subject matter ruined one chance for the makers to discuss the inner conflict many in the community face. The murder investigation plotline is mixed with the narrative mentioned above and delivers a decent story and screenplay, though it has several plot holes that are hard to ignore. Murder investigations are supposed to tie up all the knots. The Murder in Mahim conclusion about who the killer is has left audiences with many questions. There needed to be enough information about threads that would connect the dots. Instead, the makers chose to ignore several missing puzzle pieces. 

The subplots about father-son dynamics are explored well, though. Shiva, who comes from a middle-class family, has a tough time dealing with his father as well as his son. Shiva’s transition from being a short-tempered father and husband to finally understanding why people do what they do is interesting. Shiva’s arc, which has him begin to accept people for who they are, is a journey every layman goes through in their lifetime. The writing was inconsistent, but effort needs to be lauded. The same could be said about Peter Fernandes and his wife, Millie, who panic when they assume their son is gay. The entire ordeal in regards to the investigation is a journey to understanding and accepting men and women for who they are.

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Murder in Mahim tried to do what Badhai Do did, but sadly, the writers and the makers could not come close to it. There is another concern regarding police officers like Firdaus Rabbani being unable to stand up for themselves against her parents. A male lead had to rescue her from the fate of marrying a man. When will the narrative of men saving marginalized communities change? Firdaus, being a police officer, should have been able to save herself, and this angle in the writing would have made a lot of difference. It is disheartening to watch many characters who belong to the queer community being shown as people who have maniacal tendencies. We understand the mental ramifications of being suppressed by society are heavy, in which case there needed to be a discourse on the same instead of them dropping the subject without throwing any light on their plight. 

Queer men and women are still alienated and discriminated against. Instead of turning them into monsters, society will just cast them in a certain light, and the subject of inclusivity goes out of the window. Murder in Mahim had all the ammunition to discuss these subjects, but instead they took the safe route, and the writing sadly will not help the helpless. The subplot about Leslie, Peter’s ostracized distant relative is an interesting one. Leslie’s character helps the audience understand the fate of middle-aged men like him who had to face worse treatment decades ago when the concept of being gay was alien to society. Metaphors like people wanting to keep updating their smartphones yet refusing to update their minds as society moves forward are excellent. 

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The direction by Raj Acharya is tacky in most of the parts, and many intimate scenes are not shot sensitively. Bringing up the subject of having children who are gay or transgender and just dropping these words amidst conversation cannot be considered open-minded. The subject matter needs to be tackled with utmost care, and the makers missed this point. There needed to have been more understanding of the community before making this show. Since this subject is a hot topic in 2024, it does not make Murder in Mahim the voice of the destitute. 

The performances are the plus points that keep Murder in Mahim engaging. Vijay Raaz, as Shiva Jende, is excellent as a father, son, husband, and police officer, but he has a tough time accepting changes around him. Vijay Raaz, just like every time, gets into the skin of character to deliver the journey of a man in a few weeks of investigation. Ashutosh Rana is slowly moving away from villain roles to character-driven roles. In Murder in Mahim, Peter is a veteran journalist who has done some groundbreaking stories but has a tough time accepting the fact that his only son might be gay. Ashutosh Rana’s transition is inconsistent, as there are hardly any scenes between the father and son to witness their bond. Nevertheless, Peter Ashutosh Rana delivers an earnest performance. The standout performer is Ashitosh Gaikwad as Unit. As a young boy who lost his friend to a murder, he has seen the worst of growing up gay and poor. The young man has a few scenes in which he can convey the fear and pain of being neglected and suppressed, followed by a longing for love and acceptance. This actor has a long way to go. 

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Murder in Mahim is a decent murder mystery thriller, but it serves nothing when it comes to tackling homophobia. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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