Archive for March, 2009


Posted: March 31, 2009 in movie
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It was after a very long debate we — I, Vij, Rajeshattan and Viji — went to watch 13B. Garuda Mall being just in front of our house was an added advantage. We went for a night show and there were hardly any people for the show. When counted, there were only 31 (not 13 ;)) people for the show.

Madhavan and Neetu Chandra

Madhavan and Neetu Chandra

Manohar (R. Madhavan) moves into a new apartment —13B on the 13th floor — with his family. From the first day at their new flat, women are hooked to a new TV show — Sab Khairiyat. The show is about a family eerily similar to their family, who have also just moved into a new house. As the serial unfolds, the incidents that happen in the show start happening to Manohar and his family. Initially, a number of happy events take place and a lot of good things happen, both in the serial and in Manohar’s family. Then things take a turn for the worse and shocking incidents start happening in the serial. The camera work is exceptional, with a brilliant sound and energetic background score. The scenes with the septuagenarian neighbour and his black dog are exceptional, especially the scene when the dog refuses to enter Manohar’s house.

13Though the movie involved us in the proceedings and most importantly, scared as well, certainly, a few questions popped up in our mind. If the television set had to spill the beans towards the end to the culprit, why didn’t it do so to the main protagonist earlier? The album was unearthed from the playground of the garden and how come it wasn’t discovered when the old house gave way to a high-rise apartment?

But yes, after a long time, it was refreshing, a complete paisa vasool film. Of course, paying a whopping price at a multiplex to get scared definitely counts!

When the world is struggling to give the due rights to women, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai signed a law ‘legalising rape in marriage’. The law prevents women from leaving the house without permission.

The law is believed to state that women can only seek work, education or doctor’s appointments with their husband’s permission. Only fathers and grandfathers are granted custody of children under the law.

PD*27814796Karzai has been accused of electioneering at the expense of women’s rights by signing the law to appeal to crucial Shia swing voters in this year’s presidential poll.

While the Afghan constitution guarantees equal rights for women, it also allows the Shia community, representing 10 per cent of the population, the right to settle family law cases according to Shia law.

The Shiite Personal Status Law contains provisions on marriage, divorce, inheritance, rights of movement and bankruptcy.

The bill passed both houses of the Afghan parliament, but was so contentious that the United Nations and women’s rights campaigners were unable to see a copy of the approved bill.

Remarkable Photographs

The New York Public Library has recently unveiled some extraordinary pictures of the Statue of Liberty under construction. Take a trip back in time and see extraordinary behind the scenes images of the creation of this superlative structure.

A giant is formed. The sheer scale of the statue under construction can be seen here, in contrast to the workmen posing woodenly for that fairly new invention, the camera.. The more formal name for the statue is Liberty Enlightening the World and it is constructed with sheets of pure copper, even though the picture makes it look something like marble.. It is something of a miracle that we now have the finished product standing proudly on Liberty Island. Had it not been for the contributions of ordinary French and Americans then she would never have arisen in the first instance.

2Such is the immensity of the statue one can only wonder whether or not the workmen pictured above had any idea which part of the statue they were working on at any one time. The photographer Albert Fernique, who captured these pictures around 1883, must have been in a certain awe at the immensity of the statue and his images capture its sheer scale and size beautifully. The French had decided to give the United States of America something for their centennial independence celebrations that the Americans and the world would never forget. The process of building was painstaking, slow and fraught with financial difficulties. The copper ?shell’ was only what the public would see. What lies beneath – both in terms of its structure and the story behind its *****ion – is almost as startling
At the time France was in political turmoil and, although at the time under their third republic, many people looked back at the time of Napoleon and the monarchy before that with fondness and wanted its return. The desire for a backwards step to authoritarianism was worrying. French politicians – as wily then as now – saw Lady Liberty as a way, albeit phenomenally huge, to focus the public’s imagination on republicanism as the best way forward. The USA and its centennial of independence from the yolk of England was the perfect focus.

31The plaster surface of the left arm and its hand take shape, the skeleton underneath revealed. As there is a deal of work under the carapace, so the French politicians had ulterior motives. Using the USA – which many saw as the ideal of government and populist aspirational politics – the French used the statue as a Trojan Horse in reverse, as it were. Its true purpose, in the eyes of the political gift givers, was to make republicanism the center of political ideology in the minds of the people. How greatly it succeeded can never fully be quantified but the French cannot be faulted for thinking big. It must be said here that the ordinary French, through their substantial buying of lottery tickets (and other fundraising efforts) had a much purer purpose at heart than their politicians.

4It must surely have been amazing for the workers to turn up each morning to the sight of a colossal head looking down upon them. The inspiration for the face seems to be the Roman god of the sun, Apollo or his Greek equivalent, Helios. More down to earth sources of inspiration center on the women in the life of the sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. It may well have been Isabella Eugenie Boyer, a good looking and well-known figure in Paris at the time. More worrying, some believe the face of the statue actually belongs to Bartholdi’s mother. Bartholdi never revealed the true model of the face, but if this is the case Freud would have had a field day.

5Bertholdi made a small scale model first, which is still displayed in the Jardin du Luxembourg in the city of the statue’s original construction, Paris. Before the statue was shipped to America, though, it had to be seen to be tested. If it had not been for money, it may never have landed in the states – particularly in the form we all know. On a visit to Egypt, Bartholdi’s vision of liberty expanded to its present proportions. Had his original idea received financial support, then whatever gift the French gave the Americans for the 1876 centennial could not possibly have been the statue.

6Little by little, the statue arises. Bertholdi saw the Suez Canal under construction in the eighteen sixties and was inspired to build a giant figure at its entrance. He drew up plans which bore a remarkable similarity to what now stands on Liberty Island but his ideas were rejected by the Egyptian ruling body of the time because of the financial problems the country was facing at the time. Had the statue been built in Egypt as a lighthouse, the idea would never have been taken up for America. The Statue of Liberty as we know it was in fact used as a lighthouse, from its unveiling in 1886 right until 1902 – the very first in the world to use electricity.

7Almost there! There were huge structural issues that had to be addressed in the design and construction of a sculpture of such enormity. Enter a certain Gustave Eiffel, who would later go on to build that eponymous tower which still dominates the skyline of Paris. It was his job (which he delegated to Maurice Koechlin, his favored structural engineer) to ensure that Liberty’s copper sheath could move while still remaining vertical. Koechlin created a huge pylon of wrought iron and the famous skeletal frame to ensure that the statue would not fall down in high winds.

8Money was always a problem. The plan had been to get the statue to the US by the fourth of July, 1876. Only the right arm and torch were finished by then. However, as the Americans had taken responsibility for the construction of the pedestal, these pieces of the statue were displayed to the American pubic at the Centennial Exposition (in Philadelphia) .

9Money raised by allowing people to climb this part of the statue (see here) started the funding efforts for the base of the statue. The French did their bit too, showing the head in their own exposition in 1878.

101886 must have been one of those years that people remembered for the rest of their lives. A statue of gigantic proportions, symbolizing the ideas and aspirations of America, was unveiled by President Grover Cleveland at Liberty Island (renamed from Bedloe’s Island or Love Island). In an ironic twist, President Cleveland had vetoed the New York legislature from contributing fifty thousand dollars to help with the building of the statue’s pedestal. Letting bygones be bygones, President Cleveland was more than happy to officiate at the ceremony. This had not been the only problem to face the statue in the years before its final unveiling, of course. From the model stage, above, to its triumphant moment of revelation, the process was fraught with difficulty – mostly of a financial nature. However, thanks to the efforts of both the American and French people we now have a permanent reminder of what we should hold dear – liberty still symbolically steps forth from her shackles to protect, shelter and enlighten.

When the world is going ga ga over Nano, I got a mail on Cervo from one of my friends. He sent me the mail on a condition that I should buy it 😉

cervo-aThe battle for the small car is getting hotter. Soon after the Tatas stunned the world with a Rs 1 lakh car, Nano, Hyundai stated its intention to come out with a car that could cost less than Rs 2 lakh and hit the road by 2011.

cervo2-aAnd now, auto biggie Maruti-Suzuki too is ready with Its small car.

cervo3aThe little car could hit the road, they say, as early as the end of this year or early 2009. The Suzuki car will come closest to rival Nano.

cervo4aIt will sport a Suzuki 660cc engine – as against Nano’s 623cc – and wear a tag of around Rs 1.5 lakh on road (that is, excluding insurance) – a little higher than Nano, which is expected to be Rs 1.25 lakh on road.

cervo5a1The car might be called ‘Suzuki Cervo’. Have a look at some pictures of the Japanese Suzuki Cervo … Looks Cool…

Happy Ugadi

Posted: March 27, 2009 in Festivals
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Ugadi is the beginning of Hindu New Year. It marks the onset of spring, of new life and new beginning.


Ugadi has two terms — Yuga and Aadi means beginning of new age. The onset of spring also marks a beginning of new life with plants getting new life, with fresh and tender shoots and leaves. Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon’s orbit. It is a day when predictions made for the New Year. Panchangas are read in temples and homes. Ugadi is a season of spring coming with fresh crop of mangoes. Mango and neem tress fill the fresh aroma making the air healthy.

According to legends the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on Chaitra Shuddha Padhyami or Ugadi.

Great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya’s calculations proclaimed Ugadi as the beginning of the New Year, new month and new day.

On Ugadi day, people wake up before Sunrise, take oil bath and decorate houses with fresh mango and neem leaves. Women draw rangolis in front of their houses.
According to legends, Lord Subramanya and Lord Ganesha were very fond of mangoes. Lord Subramanya exhorted people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway signifying a good crop and well-being. So, people use mango leaves and coconuts on every auspicious occasion to propitiate gods.

Every family cooks Pachadi — a combination of five ingredients — Mango, neem flowers, jaggery, tamarind and coconut. The ingredients reflect our life, a combination of sweet, sour and bitter tastes. Special dishes like Holige and Puliogre are prepared along with Pachadi.

Ugadi is considered to be the most auspicious time to start new ventures.

The Nano fever has not spared anyone, young or old. My colleagues at my previous office often used to pull my legs that I should go in a Nano instead of Scooty to the office!


The ‘first woman photojournalist’ of India, 96-year-old Homai Vyarawala, has sold her 55-year-old Fiat to buy the world’s cheapest car Nano.


Vyarawala sold her Fiat car to a vintage car lover in Mumbai after she found it difficult to get it repaired. Her Fiat car was imported from Italy 55-years-ago through sea route.


Hats off to Tata for making the dream of several middle class families in the country come true.

As expected, Jade Goody’s life is reportedly being adapted for a film tentatively titled Catch a Falling Star which will detail her poverty-ridden childhood and struggle with cancer.

Jade Goody

Jade Goody

Danny Hayward, a friend of Goody and one of three trustees of a fund set up to provide for her two children, Bobby, 5, and Freddie, 4, said a film on Goody’s life was being discussed. “Her story lends itself to a biographical film. She’s captured the mood of the nation. We’re talking about it, and we welcome approaches. We want it to tap into raising awareness of cervical cancer,” he said.

Goody at hospital

Goody at hospital

Goody’s family is reportedly keen on approaching The Football Factory director Nick Love to take up the project.

There’s a saying in Kannada “Aane idru saavira, satru saavira” (An elephant is worth of thousand rupees not only when it is alive, but also when it is dead). Probably, Jade Goody is one such person who drew the attention of the world when alive and after her death. Goody’s day-to-day battle had dominated the headlines of the media, electronic and print, for last seven months.

Jade Goody

Jade Goody

Goody is the first reality television star to die as she lived, riding high atop the nation’s most pungent newspaper headlines, dominating television bulletins and news programmes. She never showed any remorse in living her life in public. The star had shocked the world by saying that she may allow her last moments to be captured on camera.
Was she the exploiter of the media or the exploited? The truth is that she was both. She sold huge numbers of papers and magazines, caused endless amounts of internet traffic and both her own and media coffers have swelled as a result.

India, especially Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty should be indebted to Goody throughout her life. It is the racial remarks of Goody which brought name and fame to Shilpa Shetty, who otherwise would have lost in the oblivion.
If the world recognises Shilpa Shetty, it is only because of Jade Goody and her remarks in reality show ‘Big Brother’.
Jade recorded the details of her final days and her day-to-day struggle with cervical cancer in a personal diary titled “Forever In My Heart”. The 27-year-old star, left Royal Marsden Hospital and spent her last days at home. She secured a deal with HarperCollins publishers for her book.

The former ‘Big Brother’ star considered the diary to be her final lover letter to her sons Bobby and Freddy.
It is an emotional book which tells a fascinating story of our time, a story of a woman who rose to fame as a controversial reality TV star and won admiration in the eyes of many for the fortitude with which she faced terminal cancer.

From being brought up in a small house in southeast London to becoming one of the most hated-turned-loved person in Britain, Jade always lived her life for the cameras.

Born as Jade Cerisa Lorraine Goody on June 5, 1981, her mother Jackiey Budden raised her as a single parent after her father left them when she was just two-years-old.

Goody had openly spoken about her troubled childhood and her struggle to get an education saying that her poverty- ridden early days prompted her to secure a better future to her two sons — Bobby and Freddy from a relationship with TV presenter Jeff Brazier.

Jeff Brazier with sons Bobby and Freddy

Jeff Brazier with sons Bobby and Freddy

She worked as a dental nurse before gaining popularity by appearing on the Channel 4 reality show ‘Big Brother’ in 2002. Though she was ridiculed by the media for being ignorant, the star maintained a steady popularity and finished fourth in the show.

Jade Goody in Big Brother show

Jade Goody in Big Brother show

Goody maintained her fame by starring in many other reality shows, featuring in gossip columns and women magazines and launching new products while other ‘Big Brother’ contestants were soon forgotten by the public. In the process, she went on to win millions. She also published her autobiography in 2006 titled ‘Jade: My Autobiography’ and launched her own fragrance ‘Shh…Jade Goody’.

Goody with her autobiogarphy

Goody with her autobiogarphy

She re-entered the celebrity edition of ‘Big Brother’ with her mother Jackiey and boyfriend Jack Tweed in 2007 where Indian actress Shilpa Shetty also participated. While on the show, Goody gained notoriety for allegedly bullying and racially abusing Shilpa, with the episode snowballing into an international controversy. Goody was soon evicted from the show and producers Channel 4 issued a statement denying racial abuse charges. She became a villain in the eyes of Indian public with the media splashing the pictures of a crying Shilpa. The issue became so huge that British broadcasting regulator Ofcom received a record of more than 44,500 complaints from audiences. The allegations affected Goody’s meteoric rise as a popular star in Britain. Her perfume was withdrawn from the shelves soon after the racism controversy and the publication of her autobiography was also stopped.
In her effort to improve her image, Goody decided to appear on the Indian version of Big Brother, ‘Bigg Boss’, which was anchored by Shilpa. Goody was still in India when she received news that she has been diagnosed with cervical cancer. The star left the show to return to UK to begin treatment.

Goody's mom Jackiey Budden

Goody's mom Jackiey Budden

Goody became a national hero after she decided to go public with her struggle with the deadly disease on Living TV.
She continued to give interviews about her day-to-day battle with cancer. The star was initially slammed for selling her story to the media but she hit back saying she wanted to provide a better future for her two children, which further propelled her into the public eye.

She married boyfriend Tweed on February 22 in a lavish ceremony. The star reportedly received one million for selling the exclusive rights to ‘Hello!’ magazine to film her marriage.

Goody's husband Jack Tweed

Goody's husband Jack Tweed

After being told that her cancer had become terminal in February, the star shocked the world by saying that she will allow her last moments to be captured on camera. “I’ve lived my whole adult life talking about my life. The only difference is that I’m talking about my death now. It’s OK. I’ve lived in front of cameras and maybe I’ll die in front of them. And I know some people don’t like what I’m doing but at this point I really don’t care what other people think. Now, it’s about what I want,” she said.

After being in a coma-like state for 48 hours, Goody, died in her sleep in the early hours on March 22 with her mother Jackiey and husband Jack Tweed by her side at her home in Upshire, Essex, away from public glare and cameras that dominated her short life. She faced her death in the way she faced her whole life, with a lot of courage.

It is ‘ironic’ that the young mother of two boys died on Mother’s Day. The heartbreaking task of informing Jade Goody’s two young sons about her death fell on father Jeff Brazier, who told the children that their mother was in heaven. Bobby and Freddy had prepared a card for Goody on Mother’s Day but it remained unopened as the star died in the early hours.

flowers kept outside Goody's house

flowers kept outside Goody's house

The star had already planned her funeral and had told her family members to make it a ‘celebration’ of her life. Goody had expressed her desire to have a traditional burial at the local church of St John the Baptist in Buckhurst close to her home.

Earlier, the Congress wanted to take political mileage out of Gandhiji’s memorabilia and now, it wants to take advantage from a Hindi flick. It is all set to take political gain from Slumdog Millionaire’s child artistes and take credit for the success of the film. This is not the first time the Congress is using popular films to its gain. Last year, it used “Chak De” song and now they have altered the “Jai Ho” song to “Aam aadmi ke badhte kadam, har kadam par Bharat buland… Jai ho… Jai ho…”

Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire's child actors Rubina Ali and Azharuddin showcasing the creation of designer Ashima Leena at the Wills Life Style Fashion week in New Delhi

Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire's child actors Rubina Ali and Azharuddin showcasing the creation of designer Ashima Leena at the Wills Life Style Fashion week in New Delhi

Azharuddin and Rubina with designers Ashima, left, and Leena Singh, after walking the ramp during the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, Autumn Winter 2009, in New Delhi

Azharuddin and Rubina with designers Ashima, left, and Leena Singh, after walking the ramp during the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, Autumn Winter 2009, in New Delhi

The Congress during its several decades of rule created lakhs of slums so that they can be banked upon as vote-banks. The dwellers have been continuously kept in abject poverty and lured with money, liquor and clothes during elections. It is these politicians who created slums and slumdogs!

Child  actors Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali prepare to enter Indian Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi's residence along with designer Leena Singh in New Delhi

Child actors Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali prepare to enter Indian Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi's residence along with designer Leena Singh in New Delhi

Slumdog child actors Azhar and Rubina sang “Jai Ho” for the Congress rally, besides personally meeting party chief Sonia Gandhi. They were given Sonia’s pictures to be displayed during the election campaign. Is it not an offence to use child artistes for election rallies?

The wrong images projected by filmmakers, based on a half truth, are exploited by our politicians and others. Some have exaggerated India’s social problems like caste system, poverty, child marriage, widow system, sati and now, slums! Some organisations encash showing these films to the West and our politicians try to garner votes for their parties.

Stardom of any kind cannot change the lives of these slum children. They go back to their normal lives once the limelight is not on them. The Congress or any other party for that matter should try to rehabilitate these less fortunate kids. They should make sure that they finish school and graduate. Rehabilitate their parents and guardians so that the kids are not under the pressure to work. Make India a slumless country.

At last, Josef Fritzl was convicted of homicide, enslavement, rape, incest and other charges and sentenced to life in a psychiatric ward for imprisoning his daughter for 24 years, fathering her seven children and letting one infant die as a captive. With this, a shocking case that  drew the attention of the world got a dramatic end.

The Fritzl case emerged in April 2008 when a 42-year-old woman, Elisabeth Fritzl said to police in Amstetten, Austria, that she had been held captive for 24 years in a concealed part of the basement of the family home by her father, Josef Fritzl.

Josef Fritzl

Josef Fritzl

He had physically assaulted, sexually abused, and raped her numerous times during her imprisonment. The incestuous relationship forced upon her by her father had resulted in the birth of seven children and one miscarriage.

Three of the children had been imprisoned along with their mother — daughter Kerstin, 19, and sons Stefan, 18, and Felix, 5. One child, named Michael, had died of respiratory problems three days after birth, deprived of medical help. The body of the baby was incinerated by Josef Fritzl on his property.

The three other children were raised by Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie in the upstairs home. Fritzl had engineered the appearance of these children as foundlings discovered outside his house — Lisa at nine months in 1993, Monika at 10 months in 1994, and Alexander at 15 months in 1997.

When the eldest daughter, Kerstin, became seriously ill, Josef acceded to Elisabeth’s pleas to take her to a hospital, triggering a series of events that eventually led to the discovery.

Josef was arrested on 26 April 2008, aged 73, on suspicion of serious crimes against family members.
Josef Fritzl was born on April 9, 1935 in Amstetten, Austria. In 1956,  he married Rosemarie, 17, with whom he had seven children — two sons and five daughters, including Elisabeth, who was born in 1966. He began abusing Elisabeth in 1977 when she was 11-years-old.

After completing compulsory education at age 15, Elisabeth started a training course to become a waitress. In January 1983, she ran away from home and, together with a friend from work, went into hiding in Vienna. She was found by police within three weeks and returned to her parents. She rejoined her training course and after completeing the course in 1984, was offered a job in the nearby city of Linz.

On August 29, 1984, Josef lured her into the basement of the family home under the pretense that he needed help with carrying a door. He drugged her with ether and moved her into a small concealed underground chamber.
After Elisabeth’s disappearance, her mother filed a missing complaint. Almost a month later, Josef handed over a letter to the police, the first of several that Elisabeth was forced to write while in captivity. The letter was postmarked in the town of Braunau. It stated that she was staying with a friend and was tired of living with her family, warning her parents not to look for her or she would leave the country. Her father stated to police that she had most likely joined a religious sect.

Over the course of the following 24 years, Fritzl visited her in the hidden cellar on average once every three days to get food and other supplies. After his arrest, he admitted that he repeatedly had sexual intercourse with his own daughter against her will.

Elisabeth gave birth to seven children during her years in captivity. One child died shortly after birth, and three children — Lisa, Monika and Alexander — were removed from the cellar as infants to live with Fritzl and his wife. They adopted Lisa and became Monika’s and Alexander’s foster carers, with the knowledge of local social services authorities.

Following the birth of the fourth child in 1994, Fritzl enlarged the prison for Elisabeth and her children from 380 sq ft to 600 sq ft. The captives had a television, radio, and video cassette player at their disposal. Food could be stored in a refrigerator and cooked or heated on hot plates. Elisabeth taught the children to read and write. At times in order to punish them, Fritzl shut off the lights to the basement or refused to deliver food for several days at a time.
Fritzl told Elisabeth and the three children — Kerstin, Stefan and Felix — who remained in the cellar that they would be gassed if they tried to escape.

A tenant, who rented a ground floor room in the Fritzl house for 12 years, said he heard noises coming from the basement but Fritzl passed it off as noise emanating from the gas heating system.

On April 19, 2008, Kerstin, Elisabeth’s eldest daughter, fell unconscious, and Fritzl agreed to seek medical attention. Elisabeth helped Fritzl carry Kerstin out of the dungeon and saw the outside world for the first time in 24 years. She was then made to return to the dungeon.

Kerstin was taken by an ambulance to a local hospital and admitted in serious condition with life-threatening kidney failure. Fritzl later arrived at the hospital claiming to have found a note written by Kerstin’s mother. He discussed Kerstin’s condition and the note with Dr Albert Reiter. Medical staff found aspects of the story to be puzzling and alerted the police on April 21, who then broadcast an appeal via public media for the missing mother to come forward and provide additional information about Kerstin’s medical history. The police then reopened the case file on a missing Elisabeth. Fritzl repeated his story about Elisabeth being in a cult, and presented what, he claimed, was the “most recent letter” from her, dated January 2008. It was posted from the town of Kematen to mislead the police.

The police contacted Manfred Wohlfahrt, a church officer responsible for collecting information on religious cults. Wohlfahrt raised doubts about the existence of the cult. He noted that Elisabeth’s letters seemed dictated and oddly written. The news covered some of these issues and Elisabeth watched the story, as it progressed, on the television in the cellar. She pleaded with her father to be taken to the hospital. On April 26, Fritzl released Elisabeth from the cellar along with her sons Stefan and Felix, bringing them upstairs. Fritzl told his wife that Elisabeth had decided to come back after a 24-year absence. Fritzl and Elisabeth went to the hospital where Kerstin was being treated. Following a confidential tipoff by Dr Albert Reiter reporting that the two were at the hospital, the police detained Elisabeth and her father on the hospital grounds and took them to a police station for further interrogation.
Elisabeth did not provide police with more details until they reassured that she would be safe from her father and her children would be looked after. In two hours, she told the story of her 24 years in captivity. Fritzl was arrested on suspicion of serious crimes against family members, facing possible charges of false imprisonment, rape, manslaughter by negligence, and incest.

Fritzl told investigators that there was a small hidden door, opened by a secret keyless entry code, to gain entry to the basement. Fritzl’s wife, Rosemarie, had, apparently, been unaware of what had been happening to Elisabeth. It is believed she assumed, due to the letters in her handwriting, that her daughter had run away from home to join a religious cult.

The Fritzl property in Amstetten consists of a building dating from around 1890 and a newer building, which was added after 1978, when Fritzl applied for a building permit for an extension with basement. In 1983, building inspectors visited the site and verified that the new extension had been built according to the dimensions specified on the building permit. Unknown to them, however, Fritzl had illegally created additional room by excavating space for a much larger basement and concealed it by erecting walls. Around 1981 or 1982, he started to turn this hidden cellar into a prison cell and installed a washbasin, a toilet, a bed, a hot plate and a refrigerator. In 1993, he added more space by creating a passageway to a pre-existing basement area under the old part of the property, which no one knew of apart from him.

Small door leading to the cellar

Small door leading to the cellar

The concealed cellar was soundproofed and consisted of a 5 m long corridor, a storage area, and three small open cells, connected by narrow passageways, a basic cooking area and bathroom facilities, followed by two sleeping areas, which were equipped with two beds each. It covered an area of approximately 600 sq ft. The ceilings were no more than 5.6 ft high.

Bathroom in the cellar

Bathroom in the cellar

The hidden cellar had two access points — a hinged door that weighed 500 kg which is thought to have become unusable over the years because of its weight, and a metal door, reinforced with concrete and on steel rails that weighed 300 kg and measured 3.3 ft high and 2 ft wide.

Narrow corridor leading to the cellar

Narrow corridor leading to the cellar

It was located behind a shelf in Fritzl’s basement workshop, protected by an electronic code known only to Fritzl, which he entered using a remote control unit. In order to reach this door, five locking basement rooms had to be crossed. To get to the area where Elisabeth and her children were held, eight doors in total would need to be unlocked, of which two doors were additionally secured by electronic locking devices.