Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar’s latest web series Dahaad, which dropped on Amazon Prime on May 12, is getting a lot of attention from viewers due to its strong storytelling. The series stars actors Sonakshi Sinha, Vijay Varma, Gulshan Devaiah and Sohum Shah.
The main takeaway from the series is Vijay Varma’s character; psychopath professor-serial killer Anand Swarnakar, which bears strong real-life resemblance with a serial killer from Karnataka.
Vijay Varma's character Anand Swarnakar, a Hindi professor at a women's college, is loosely inspired by a real-life serial killer Mohan Kumar, also known as Cyanide Mohan. Cyanide Mohan is accused of murdering 20 women in Karnataka from 2003 to 2009.
Though the events in the series take place across Rajasthan, the killings by serial killer Mohan Kumar were mostly in Karnataka. But Varma’s character draws huge similarities with Cyanide Mohan, who used a particular method to target and kill his victims.
Mohan Kumar AKA Cyanide Kumar: Mohan Kumar Vivekanand targeted young unmarried women around the age of 20. Kumar would approach these women, befriend them, and eventually ensnare them into a physical relation.
He would then ask them to take a contraceptive pill to avoid pregnancy. He would lace the pills with potassium cyanide; the poison that would kill the women who consumed it.
Kumar played smart. He asked the women to take the pills in public lavatories in order to evade cops and any suspicion. He would ask the women to take these pills inside the toilet since there were chances of throwing up after taking the pill.
After the death of the victims, he would rob them of their jewellery and flee. Kumar’s unique offer to these women was that he would marry them without asking for a dowry; and this tactic worked on the women who were young and unmarried because their parents couldn’t afford a dowry.
Mohan Kumar came to be known as 'Cyanide Mohan' for his use of cyanide to dispose of his victims.
Vijay Varma’s character follows the same methodology of targeting young unmarried women, spending a night at a hotel, and giving them cyanide-laced poison, leading to their deaths.
The police were investigating the case of a missing girl, Anitha (22), in 2009, and her phone calls revealed more than what the cops were looking for.
Her phone records showed that Anitha was in touch with another girl, who too was missing. And this led the police to track a person who was using the cell phone of that girl.
It was this person who led the police to the residence of Mohan Kumar in a village near Mangaluru in Karnataka.
According to a Times of India report, police found 8 cyanide tablets, four mobile phones and jewellery belonging to Anitha with Mohan. Mohan Kumar was apprehended. After his arrest, the police not only slapped him with the rape and murder of Anitha, but also decided to reopen the cases of 17 missing girls.
Conviction and sentencing: After his arrest in 2009, he was put under trial for 2 years and in 2013, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder of Anitha. But the Karnataka High Court reduced his death sentence to life imprisonment in 2017.
In 2020, he was found guilty of raping and murdering a 25-year-old woman from Kasaragod, which was the 20th case of murder slapped against him.
Where is Cyanide Mohan now: As of now, he has been sentenced to life imprisonment in 15 murder cases. He is lodged at the Hindalga Central Prison in Belagavi.