Curry & Cyanide

Curry & Cyanide Will Make You Never Want To Eat Curry Again

Dept. of Heinous Housewives


Let me pitch you a story. In a small town in Kerala, India, a young woman, raised in a poor farming family, escapes the struggles of poverty and becomes a lecturer at a prestigious college, eventually marrying the love of her life. But then tragedy strikes and both her in-laws and husband suddenly die. Left alone and distraught, she must now face the daunting task of raising her two children. She eventually remarries and her life is once again blessed with good fortune. On the face of it, this sounds like the perfect story of overcoming adversity and finding that sweet happy ending. But what if I told you that this very same woman was in fact a cold blooded killer who murdered six people, including her in-laws, husband, and even a two year old child? No, this isn’t a synopsis for a television drama, Curry & Cyanide is the very true, very real, story of Jolly Joseph.

A title like Curry & Cyanide is enough to make you stop scrolling through your Netflix feed and go, “What?” You may think that it’s yet another Harlan Coben-esque thriller for you to binge watch, only to realize that it is instead a documentary about the real-life Koodathayi Cyanide Killings which stunned India back in 2019. It’s a story that is truly shocking and terrifying, but also incredibly intriguing when trying to understand how this seemingly gentle housewife could have done something so barbaric.

Curry & Cyanide

Jolly Joseph seemed to have it all, a loving husband, two wonderful children, and a house – under her husband’s name – that would give her all the financial security she needed. It was the perfect life. But when disagreements within the family started arising, instead of finding rational solutions, she turned to poisoning people with cyanide instead. In water, whiskey, or curry, Jolly Joseph found ways of eliminating her problems in order to get what she wanted.

Admittedly, I had no awareness about this murder case until I saw this documentary. Perhaps it isn’t a story that’s well known outside of India, or perhaps it just never popped up on my radar, but this documentary has burned it into my consciousness forever. With its recreations of the crimes, intertwined with interviews with the family members, and news footage from the incidents, it paints a wonderfully haunting picture of what had happened throughout those 14 years.

Director Christo Tomy has crafted a narrative that isn’t just incredibly well paced and easy to follow, but also gives us the backstory and context to every aspect of the case. Tomy tries his best to give a fair, unbiased, and complete view for you to think about.

Curry & Cyanide

As much as this film is highlights Jolly Joseph and the crimes she committed, another important point that this documentary makes, is the lack of ethics within the criminal justice system in India. It will come as quite a shock when I say that even with all six deaths, only one body, her husband’s, was submitted for a post mortem. How Joseph managed to convince the police and coroner to not investigate the others just baffles and boggles the mind. It’s no wonder she got away with it for as long as she did. Jolly may have committed the crimes, but an equal amount of blame has to be placed on the police for their failure to investigate.

You will be at the edge of your seat throughout this entire 95 minute documentary. Your mouth agape with each and every revelation. This story is like going down that rabbit hole of insanity that’s usually reserved for crime procedurals. When you hear about a case like this, you expect to see the face of a hard-laced killer with an unsound mind. But Jolly Joseph was just your average housewife. What compelled her commit such heinous crimes and not show an ounce of remorse – she continues to maintain her innocence – is baffling. With the case still ongoing as we speak, I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one keeping up with every update that comes out. I’ll probably also be cautiously evaluating every bowl of curry that comes my way from now on.

Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case is now streaming on Netflix.

Nick Dorian spent most of his childhood dreaming of being a plumber, mainly because he loved watching Super Mario go on adventures. When he heartbreakingly discovered actual plumbers don't go on great adventures in real life, he went on to sit in front of a TV or movie screen, watching more people go on adventures, and then talk to anybody around him about what he's seen, whether they liked it or not. Fast forward to today, he somehow managed to make watching movies and TV shows, and discussing them, an actual living. Which goes to show, dreams do come true. Except when you dream of being an Italian plumber who fights mushrooms and toads.

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