Indrani Mukerjea lived life in the fast lane, starting out on a rollercoaster journey from Guwahati in India’s northeast to reach dizzying heights as a media tycoon in Mumbai, once even named among the world's top 50 most influential women.
But for the wife of former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea, Indrani’s fall has been as dramatic as her rise – she was arrested earlier this week for allegedly murdering Sheena Bora, her daughter from an earlier marriage.
Peter Mukerjea, who was born in Britain, was one of the earliest movers in the Indian broadcasting industry after he took over as CEO at Star India.
Indrani was the head of a small-time executive search company — INX Services — in Kolkata.
"INX Services was a small agency with less than 10 people. They mainly looked to recruit for contract employees," said the head of a multinational head hunting firm based in Kolkata.
The couple married in 2002, which brought the Guwahati-born Indrani in focus. From handling the manpower recruitment for Star India, to eventually encouraging Peter to quit and start their own media venture, INX Media, she was instrumental in Peter making some big decisions.
"It was a mess from the start. Coming from the stable of a person like Peter, who had brought the mighty TV channels down to their knees and popularised a purely western game show concept [KBC], INX was run like a family show," said a source familiar with how the company was run. "The company was staffed by people close to Indrani and was run unprofessionally."
This was to later go against Peter when he sought to bring in investors for a new venture, after exiting INX in 2009.
"There was an awards ceremony, where the then Prime Minister was to deliver a lecture, and both Peter and Indrani arrived late. Even after taking their seats, Indrani kept talking with Peter, disturbing everyone around. Peter only listened and stared around embarrassed… but did nothing to stop her. That, I think, reflected their equation," said a socialite, who was present at the event.
According to information posted on its website, the INX Group, which is based out of Mumbai, started operations in 1996 with INX Services, growing slowly and adding more companies to its fold.
"Today, INX Executive Search & Selection has a huge clientele, serving across industries, verticals and transnational boundaries through a dedicated team of more than 90 qualified consultants in India," said the website, which describes founder Indrani Mukerjea as one of the world's top 50 most influential women as named by the Wall Street Journal in 2008. The board is chaired by Peter Mukerjea, who is also chief strategist behind the continued growth and expansion of the INX Group.
Even after quitting INX, Indrani oversaw separations of different divisions, the most prominent being 9X Media, a television network under INX Media and INX News. To INX's credit, the company was able to bring on board multinational Hindustan Unilever for a three-year advertising contract with 9X.