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“HOUSE BOY” is 5-Part Limited Series written and produced by Lorenzo DeStefano, based on his 2022 novel. An urban thriller with socio-political and racial overtones, it is a fact-based tale that inhabits a shadowland where ancient traditions take root and prosper in our so-called modern world. In the polite suburb of Hendon, North London, in an undistinguished house at 321 Finchley Lane, the lives of a young man and an older woman intersect as if decreed by history.

Vijay Pallan is a twenty-four year old Dalit from Chettipattu, a remote village in southern India, where untouchables like him live and die unnoticed. Binda Tagorstani, forty-six, is a wealthy widow from the upper castes, long assimilated into British life. Binda’s son, Ravi Tagorstani, is twenty-seven, a real estate property manager with low self-esteem and a nasty mean streak. Ravi and his mother have kept Vijay for nearly a year as an indentured house boy, after paying the Better Life Employment Agency in Chennai hard cash for his unlimited services. Vijay has become, from the moment of his arrival in the U.K., their property, and Binda hasthe signed contract to prove it.

Vijay’s journey began with a two hundred kiolometer transit bus journey from his village to Chennai, capital city of Tamil Nadu state. He is seeking work of any kind. All he will earn he pledges towards the dowries of his sisters, Sakthi and Amala. The twins aretwenty-one, thus already past the ideal marrying age for girls of their caste.  As the only son and eldest offspring, Vijay has made himself responsible for their well-being and that of his aging parents, Surendar and Hamsa, whose lives in Chettipattu as a night soil collector and a washerwoman he has pledged to make less unendurable.

In Chennai, Vijay meets Santhana Gopalan, a recruiter for Better Life.  Seduced by gilded promises of good wages and pleasant working conditions with upper-caste Indian families in England, Vijay is faced with an offer no starving Third World person could possibly refuse. Prey to the hard sell of these professional flesh merchants, Vijay is given no time to read an employment contract rooted in the ancient scheme of debt bondage. 

He is bathed, medically tested, decently dressed in the western manner, then supplied with an authentic Indian passport, a doctored work visa, and a modest cash advance for him and for his family. Arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, Vijay meets Sammi Appan, a go-between who delivers him and other fresh arrivals to their new places of enslavement. Before he knows it Vijay becomes embroiled in schemes beyond his understanding. He experiences up close and personal a caste-based savagery with its roots in the ancient world. Binda and Rafi Tagorstani will make this house on Finchley Lane the kind of hell Vijay thought existed only after death and not before. His promised wages have gone unpaid from the beginning. Now, after nearly a year, all of the promises of leisure time advertised in the brightly printed Better Life brochure, (“Take in the sights of merry olde England on your days off.”), have gone unfulfilled. Vijay is allowed no access to the outside world. He is locked beneath the stairs at night in a space no bigger than a cupboard. He is shackled to the kitchen sink while preparing meals and forced to serve his masters at parties dressed in humiliating garments.

Binda’s business associates, Al Mohindar, Ray Nabob, and Sheela Atwal, are witness to this treatment. Sheela is the only one who shows any signs of empathy for the mistreated young man. She keeps her feelings cautiously to herself, offending Binda being the last thing she can afford to do. At risk, Sheela’s position as heir apparent to the Pandit Advisory Group, the tip of Binda’s expertly-crafted affinity fraud empire. Both women have made hundreds of thousands over the years, by playing on the hopes and dreams of South Asian emigres.

A virgin on his arrival in the UK, Vijay is that no longer.  Each step he takes towards Binda’s elaborately decorated bedroom feels as if he’s travelling down the latest of several dark, converging paths that have led him here. The Missus reclines yet again on an oak four-poster, splays herself Salome-like across the silken pillows. She unpins the graying swirl atop her head, the tendrils spilling like kelp over her shoulders and onto her surgically augmented breasts. Binda’s eyes, thick with mascara, are bleak, demanding. She lifts the edge of her nightdress, slowly and for obvious effect. Extending her legs like dumplinged compass rods, she curls her meticulously pedicured toes around the griffin-headed footboard. “Taste me now,” Binda demands.

With all of the privations Vijay has lived through in Chettipattu, nothing in his previously impoverished life has prepared him for the fate that has befallen him. He has become a sexual plaything, a beast of burden, a beating post with little value and no hopes of achieving his modest goals for self-determination. “If you ever try to leave me,” Binda warns, “I will chop you up into twelve little pieces, not including your head, which will be found floating in a nearby stream by a man walking his dog.”


“The head spotted floating early Friday morning in Dollis Brook has been positively identified as once belonging to Mrs. Binda Bina Tagorstani, 46, late of 321 Finchley Lane, Hendon. Bobby Crush, the former musical star of TVs “Opportunity Knocks” and Best New Artist of 1972, (the Top 40 hits “Side Saddle”, “Honky Tonk Favorites” and “The Love Theme from On Golden Pond”), was walking his dog next to the Riverside Garden Centre off Hendon Lane, NW4, when he noticed the remains. A number of plastic bags containing body parts have been recovered from multiple public locations in and around Hendon. Detective Inspector Jayawan Gopal of the Hendon Homicide and Serious Crime Command is investigating.”

Detective Inspector Jayawan Gopal, at forty-eight, is a twelve-year veteran of London’s Metropolitan Police Authority, attested to by the official photographs and multiple citations on his wall. The Inspector, ranking officer at the Hendon District Station, scissors out this first article about the gruesome case that’s just landed bleeding in his lap.  As lead investigator and translator assigned to this unsettling case, Inspector Gopal finds himself drawn against his will into the wreckage of Vijay’s troubled life. The months the Inspector spends in interrogation rooms and jail cells with this fellow countryman from Chettipattu significantly alter his view of a world he thought he understood. His hopes for the existence of a potentially kind and orderly reality have been shattered by the emerging details of Vijay’s experience.

After Vijay is tried at the Old Bailey and imprisoned on a charge of “Manslaughter with Provocation”, the friendship between policeman and convicted killer strengthens. They are like two “others”, men of colour in a colour-conscious land. Vijay will learn the value of a true friend with whom he can share his secrets and his aspirations. Inspector Gopal will learn much about himself, not only as a police officer but, more profoundly, as an Indo-British man. Jayawan Gopal, through his encounters with Vijay Pallan, has been exposed to the harsh realities of human trafficking, the boundless capacity for human pain, and the ultimate blessing of even one man’s survival.