Suhaib Ilyasi became a household name in late 90’s with the stupendous success of his crime show — India’s Most Wanted — on Indian television. Ilyasi, who produced, directed and hosted the show, had a large and loyal audience that would tune in to watch his show religiously as he recounted stories of crime in a manner Indian TV had not done before. But irony played such a role that Ilyasi, himself, broke into headlines for a heinous crime in 2000 — that of murdering his wife. After 17 years of that gruesome murder, Ilyasi was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi sessions court.
Suhaib was born to Jameel Ilyasi who in the past held the position of All India Imams Organisation as well as the imam of a mosque on Kasturba Gandhi Marg in Central Delhi. Suhaib met Anju when both were studying in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University’s Mass Communication Research Centre in 1989. Anju’s father was the head of the university’s department of metallurgy then. Families of both Ilyasi and Anju were opposed to their marriage. The couple, however, got married in London in 1993. Anju later changed her name to Afsan.
In 1991, Ilyasi went to the UK on a job assignment to work with TV Asia as a cameraperson. Ilyasi and Anju made a pilot for a crime show. Most channels were wary about the idea but it was taken by Zee TV. Thus began his venture into TV as the host of India’s Most Wanted in March 1998.
However, the married life of Ilyasi remained disturbed. The couple were on the verge of getting divorced but reconciled in 1994. They had a daughter, Aaliya, next year
Meanwhile, the show had gained massive success. It was only planned for 52 episodes but the success led to Zee renewing the contract for additional episodes. It was reported that the show gave many leads that led to capture of criminals as well. Shri Prakash Shukla, a wanted hitman, featured on IMW. He was later killed in an encounter with the UP police. However, the police had said they were working on his case for months and credit to Ilyasi was undue.
In 1999, Ilyasi alleged that because of his show, he had started getting threats and hence sought personal security. He featured in cameos in movies like Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. Later, he broke up with his business partner and started another show titled Fugitive Most Wanted that ran on Doordarshan.
After Anju’s death, Ilyasi had attempted to make a movie starring as a lead actor playing Shri Prakash Shukla, but the project failed. He later made Kamyab Rasta in 2004 opposite Poonam Dariyanani. He also worked later with India TV and carried out several sting operations including on actors like Aman Verma and Shakti Kapoor. In March 2009, he opened Bureaucracy Today, a news magazine as Editor-in-Chief and began work on other film projects including one called 498A, based on the dowry law section of IPC.