Dancing on the Grave True Crime Documentary Review, How to Ruin a Perfectly Heinous Story

I find myself struggling to find the right true crime documentary for me these days. Usually when I find one I really like it’s a complete surprise. Missing Kenley popped up out of nowhere on Amazon and it’s easily one of my favorites. Another recent joy was the documentary Relentless which might slip into a future top 25 list.

I didn’t have particularly high expectations for Dancing on the Grave. That’s okay. Not everything needs to be a legendary film or series. All I wanted to do was be entertained. After one of the four parts, I was ready to shut it off.

Yes, it was hard to work and follow certain parts of the story because about 20% wasn’t in English. But that wasn’t my problem. The documentary started off so scrambled I had no idea what was going on. I stuck with it. The episodes are all less than 40 minutes long. At the end of the second episode we finally get the details of the horrific crime. Halfway through, the documentary finally seems to begin.

It wasn’t bloodlust or the desire to see someone harmed. The pacing of this documentary is what was truly awful. The first episode needed to end with details of the crime. Do I spoil it for you? Since I’m not going to recommend this one, why not? A man has allegedly buried his wife alive and there is evidence she woke up while in the coffin he buried her in.

How Dancing on the Grave should have told its story

Dancing on the Grave wasted far too much time giving us background on the people involved. Because this takes place in India, there are some cultural points which may not have been the easiest to understand. In some instances, I don’t think it was all needed in the first place.

It’s abundantly clear from the onset who the accused murderer is and who his victim will become. Too much time is wasted setting up instead of digging the hooks right into what actually happened. I find the best true crime documentaries start with the evil. Because this is a solved case according to the courts, why spend too much time trying to mask it?

Dancing on the Grave avoids the inevitable reveal of the crime’s details. It nearly had me shutting it off. I probably would have if the episodes were longer. Not until I actually found out about what had transpired did I have even the slightest bit of interest in continuing this one. It pulled me in immediately after. Unfortunately, it was a little too late for me to really appreciate this documentary.

Sometimes when watching a true crime documentary you have to really feel it from the start. Finally having an interest when it’s halfway done will not save even the best-produced film.

This documentary should have been far more about the two sides. The victim, Shakereh Khaleeli, and her killer, Murali Manohar Mishra aka Swami Shraddhanand, were married and in a relationship the society and her family didn’t accept. One was a Muslim and one was a Hindu. She even left her family for the relationship only for someone to kill her. Swami’s claims of innocence are actually quite fascinating as he admits to burying her but says he found her dead and makes his own accusations against others. This was a true crime documentary that should’ve worked. It just didn’t because of all of the wasted time.

Overall Score: 3 out of 10

I knew this documentary could never get more than about a 5 rating midway through the first episode. It failed to grab my attention. Sometimes you shouldn’t sit on the twist. Get it out of the way right away. I think this could have completely altered how I felt about it. Instead, I feel like an hour of my time was wasted.

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