When a sleepy Bombay woke up to the shocking headline in the weekly tabloid Blitz, ‘Three Shots That Shook The Nation’, Commander K.M Nanavati’s unusual case catapulted to the centre of mass attention. A first of its kind case, Nanavati, an upright, moral and patriotic naval officer who commanded respect, finds out about his wife’s torrid affair with his friend Prem Ahuja.
He calmly drops his wife and children to the theatre, picks up his service revolver from work and allegedly proceeds to Ahuja’s house to put three bullets into him. He then heads to the Deputy Commissioner of police and surrenders.
The Akshay Kumar starrer, Rustom, said to be based on the sensational case, released this Friday amidst much expectation. The movie follows the case closely but deviates in certain instances such as:
- The morally stoic Akshay Kumar fights his own case whereas Nanavati had a lawyer to represent him.
The movie has a dramatic scene in which a stoic Akshay Kumar, with an upright bearing announces amidst many collective intakes of breaths and gasps that he will fight his own case whereas in reality Nanavati is defended by lawyer, Karl Khandavala. The prosecution was led by Ram Jethmalani.
- A few other twists are added to the story presumably to make the plot more intriguing.
In reality, public opinion was largely in favour of Nanavati; they saw a moral, patriotic naval officer whose wife was ensnared by a sleazy member of the amoral bourgeoisie and Nanavati, a family man, had tried to protect the honour of a woman. In the movie Vikram Makhija (Prem Ahuja) was not only a lusty eyed, villainous cad but also a traitor who consorted with foreigners and indulged in shady deals.
There was also a conspiracy involving the Navy and the righteous Rustom Pavri, regarding certain confidential documents containing shocking revelations, which a high ranking admiral in the Navy was desperately trying to suppress using crooked ways.
The historical case did away with the jury method of trial in India after an 8-1 acquittal of Nanavati. Juries, comprising of normal people were prone to getting swayed by popular opinion and presented notions. The Blitz used to carry extensive reports portaying Nanavati as an honest, patriotic but wronged family man with strong middle class ideals while Prem Ahuja was largely painted as determined flirt and home-wrecker.
After the 8-1 majority in favour of Nanavati, the presiding judge, Justice Ratilal Bhaichand Mehta decided that the ruling was incorrect and referred the case to a higher court who convicted Nanavati for culpable homicide amounting to murder. The government then did away with the jury system since it could be misled.
The case has piqued the interest of many, so go ahead book yourself a seat for Rustom this weekend.