Rustom: 3 shots that shocked the nation!

Payal Das | 09-Jul-2016

“The three shots that shocked the nation” was the famous headline of the front page story of “Blitz” weekly tabloid in 1959. It was the famous case of K.M. Nanavati Vs State of Maharashtra where he was accused of murdering his wife’s inamorato. The case not only shook the nation but also transformed the Indian Judicial system.


The Bollywood flick Rustom is based on the same case. It is written by Vipul K Rawal. This movie is directed by Tinu (Dharmendra) Suresh Desai and it would have Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz, Arjun Bajwa and Esha Gupta.

This case can be considered as the last case of Jury Trial in India, after this case, the Government of India abolished this system, as it was found that jury’s consensus can be biased. It can get misled by the external factors those were ruling them, which actually happened in this case. Looking at its disadvantage the Government of India took this decision.

The story revolves around Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati who was a Parsi commander of Indian Navy, used to live in Mumbai with his wife Sylvia and they had two sons and a daughter. He married Sylvia in Portsmouth in 1949 in England. After marriage, they changed lots of residences because Nanavati was posted in different places. Later they shifted and settled in Bombay. Being a part of Indian Navy, Nanavati used to travel a lot, as a result, he couldn’t spend much time with his family. He was then second in command of the Indian Naval Ship. Sylvia, his lonely wife who was an English woman in the mean time found a new friend i.e. Nanavati’s friend Prem Bhagwandas who had an automobile business and was a bachelor. Later on, their friendship got transformed into an intimate relationship. Their extramarital affair lasted for15 years. They used to exchange love letters which were later on found by Nanavati. Sylvia wanted to divorce Nanavati and marry Prem. Later she came to knew about Prem’s other affairs.

On the day of the incident, Nanavati returned from an official tour and found his wife aloof and bit distant, on asking his wife confessed as she by that time already came to knew about the real intentions of Prem Bhagwandas. As soon as he learnt about it he took his wife and kids along with him and dropped them at the “Metro Cinema” as he promised them a show there, somehow he managed to escape from there and headed towards the naval base and collected a pistol and six cartridges on a false pretext from the store. He even completed his duty for that day and afterwards went to Prem’s office first there he could not him so he left for his flat, rang the doorbell and as soon as the servant opened the door he went inside Prem’s bedroom there he found Prem in towel and asked him that if he has any intention to marry his wife and accept his children, to which Prem replied “Am I supposed to marry all those women with whom I sleep”. As soon as he said so Nanavati fired three bullets towards him, and he was shot dead.

After the murder, he surrendered to the Provost Marshal of Western Naval Command who later advised him to surrender himself to the Police, so Nanavati surrendered himself to the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati had a very clean and honest image; he did not have any criminal records in the past, so his case got enormous support from the public specially the Parsi community. Not only this but the case got vast media coverage.Russi Karanjia, the editor of Blitz who gave a new angle to the case by showing it as a fight between a middle class valued Nanavati and the fat cat Ahuja. Though Nanavati was accused under section 302 by the sympathetic jury but was not found guilty as the verdict was in his favour (8-1), but the Bombay High Court dismissed the verdict and retired the case as a bench trial. Later he was convicted and was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment under section 302, Indian Penal Code.

All the Parsi community and the media portrayed him as the victim of foul play and demanded his release, so Mamie Ahuja who was the sister of Prem was persuaded by Nanavati’s lawyer to vindicate Nanavati. She gave in written her consent that she has forgiven him, so on the basis of that he was released after 3 years.

Nanavati later with his wife Sylvia and three children shifted to Canada. Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati died in 2003

It was a well planned and executed murder or spontaneous action of human behaviour no one could know.

What was the real reason behind the surrender or it was a strategy, was it done to less punishment or sympathy these questions will keep you engrossed throughout the movie.

Rustom movie released on 12th August 2016.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.
About the Author
Payal Das
A writer by profession who loves to travel and stay fit. Her hobbies are painting, photography, writing stories and composing poems. Apart from these she loves cooking as she believes that not only to a man's heart but to anyone's heart it's through the stomach.