Art director's murder: Victim may have been killed for his art works

Updated: Aug 16, 2019, 09:08 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

With colleagues alleging that professional rivalry may be behind top designer's murder, cops hunt for his laptop containing hundreds of designs said to be worth more than a crore

A wedding set design featured on Chouwdhury's website. His friends  said he had freelanced for several event management firms and was much sought-after in those circles. Pic/purplemindgraymatter
A wedding set design featured on Chouwdhury's website. His friends said he had freelanced for several event management firms and was much sought-after in those circles. Pic/purplemindgraymatter

There is more to the murder of art director Krishnendu Chouwdhury than meets the eye, according to his closest associate Chinmoy Mandal. He suspects Chouwdhury was killed so that the conspirators could acquire hundreds of ready art concept designs from the laptop the in-demand art director was carrying with him on the day of the murder. The laptop has not been recovered.

While the Palghar police have arrested the three accused who allegedly killed Chouwdhury and recovered his car, his most valuable item, his laptop, has not been found yet. Senior police inspector of Virar police station, Anil Dabade confirmed the same. Mandal claimed the laptop contains hundreds of ready concept art designs, which could be turned into thousands with slight manipulation and sold for crores. He told mid-day, "Chouwdhury was one of the most talented people I've worked with. His laptop contains hundreds of set designs and the value of each ranges from anywhere between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh depending on the scale on which they were designed."

A wedding set design featured on Chouwdhury's website
A wedding set design featured on Chouwdhury's website

'A serious conspiracy'

"It is unacceptable to me that Chouwdhury was murdered over a transaction of R85,000 and for verbally abusing Furkan [Mohammed Furkan Shaikh, main accused]. Was his murder done under a well thought-out conspiracy to acquire his designs? Did Furkan kill him to gain the designs for himself or was he helped by someone who wanted to acquire them?" he added.

Also Read: Art director murder: Two more accused held

Mandal further said, "Chouwdhury never sent his designs to any of his clients on e-mail or WhatsApp. Once a meeting is fixed, he used to visit them, taking his laptop along to show his concept. He had hundreds of ready concept designs on his laptop, which could be sold for crores." He said Chouwdhury was carrying his laptop on the day he went to meet Shaikh, who later allegedly murdered him. "Chouwdhury's murder is the result of a serious conspiracy. Who is involved is not yet, but the police should investigate it in every way and bring out the facts," he added.

Shaikh killed Chouwdhury in his godown at Bhati village in Madh Island around 8.45 pm, after which he wrapped the art director's body in a bed sheet with the help of the other two. Pic/Hanif Patel
Shaikh killed Chouwdhury in his godown at Bhati village in Madh Island around 8.45 pm, after which he wrapped the art director's body in a bed sheet with the help of the other two. Pic/Hanif Patel

Cops have begun exploring the same possibility. A police officer from Malwani police station said, "We also suspect that the motive behind the murder was not the R85,000 and Chowdhury verbally abusing Shaikh. It cannot be denied that this murder looks like it was done under well-planned conspiracy to acquire the concept designs present in Chouwdhury's laptop."

Also Read: Art director's murder: Cops nab vendor 

Most sought-after

Chouwdhury's close associates said he had clients in major cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad and in states like Rajasthan. He had also freelanced for several event management companies and was the most sought-after art director in those circles. "It would be unprofessional to reveal the names of the banners since they have bought the designs, but he had sold his work to several reality, comedy and award TV shows. Some of his designs are displayed on the website of his company Purple Mind Greymatter," said another friend. His friends said his works were also used in the weddings of a top industrialist's family and a leading Bollywood A-lister last year.

Chouwdhury's friends added that after he finished his education in Kolkata, he came to Pune and completed a design course 2013-14 at the Film and Television Institute of India. He first movie as an art director was Island City. "He was on his way to becoming one of the best art directors in the country. It is a huge loss for our fraternity," said
his friends.

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The case so far

A police officer said Shaikh and others said the murder happened on August 7 after Chouwdhury got verbally abusive over a monetary transaction. Shaikh killed Chouwdhury in his godown in Madh Island around 8.45 pm, after which he wrapped the body in a sheet and put it in his car. The duo left Chouwdhury's car in Kandivli and fled to UP, while Shaikh went home. But he returned to the godown, took the car to Virar and dumped it in a creek. Shaikh said he painted over bloodstains on the floor and wall with oil paint and burnt the sofa he and Chouwdhury were seated on.

Also Read: Mumbai Crime: Art director's body found in Virar

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