It could have been the plot of a sick and twisted horror flick, but it wasn't. This was real life — sick and twisted as it gets.
According to news reports, 26-year-old Meenakshi Thapar, the Bollywood actress who appeared in last year's thriller "404," was recently kidnapped and murdered in a most unthinkable manner.
First, she was strangled. Then, beheaded, and the rest of her body hacked to pieces.
Her killers — two aspiring actors who have since confessed — had reportedly invited Thapar to take a trip with them to a small town in the Himalayan foothills.
Once there, they called Thapar's family, demanding 1.5 million rupees ($30,000) in ransom. Thapar's mother, according to the Telegraph, allegedly paid 60,000 rupees ($1,200), but her daughter was killed soon after she wired the money to a bank.
The killers, Amit Jaiswal and Preeti Surin, are said to have committed the brutal murder after hearing the young Bollywood star boast about her family's wealth.
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After cutting Thapar's body into pieces, they reportedly shoved the actress' dismembered parts into a water tank and disposed of the pieces in two separate locations. They threw the starlet's head out of their moving vehicle on the way back to Mumbai.
It doesn't get much gorier than this storyline, that's for sure.
What makes the situation more than just a one-off horror is the air of desperation the killers emit. And what makes the case even more tragic is the fact that in wealth- and status-obsessed India, they aren't alone.
GlobalPost's New Delhi correspondent Jason Overdorf wrote a piece just last week about a spike in kidnappings and murders in India. His piece delved into the similarities between cases that involved friends kidnapping friends, each seemingly linked to the desire for fast money.
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The victims Overdorf described were all from middle- or upper-class families, and the perpetrators appeared motivated to reap the benefits of India's fast-growing economy.
As a result, Overdorf wrote, "a debate has begun over whether these crimes can be seen as an unexpected cost of the country's headlong sprint for prosperity."
Thapar's case supports this theory. What appears to have pushed her killers over the edge wasn't just the desire for money — though they reportedly killed her after she boasted of her family's wealth — but also their hunger for stardom and growing frustration at not arriving at success.
In an India on the rise, there are promises aplenty. But what happens when reality falls short?
“The primary bond, the fundamentals of human relationships are breaking down,” Dr. Jayanti Dutta, a criminal psychologist, told Overdorf last week. “There's tremendous pressure to do everything fast. If you can get money, nothing else matters. There's no holding back."