Director Meghna Gulzar had last directed one of the ten segments in ‘Dus Kahaaniyaan’ (2007). Before that, she had just two feature films (‘Filhaal’ (2002), ‘Just Married’ (2007)) to her credit, none of which made an impact with the audience. Her latest directorial ‘Talvar’ outing has already made rounds of several film festivals, which in turn has generated some buzz about the film amongst the audience. The 2008 Noida double murder case which involved the murder of a 44-year-old girl called Arushi Talwar and Hemraj, a servant who resided in the same house as the girl, made headlines. The incident is fresh in people’s mind even though seven years have passed since the happening of that incident. Earlier this year, director Manish Gupta came up with ‘Rahasya’ which was inspired from the same case and was an insensitive take on the incident. One hopes that this film deals with the subject in a sensitive manner and represents the events in an authentic manner.
CDI (Central Department Of Investigation) Officer Ashwin Kumar is given the responsibility to investigate the murder of a 14-year-old girl called Shruti Tandon and the family servant Khempal. The police suspect the parents Nutan (Meghna Gulzar) and Rajesh Tandon (Neeraj Kabi) have killed their daughter. Ashwin is not interested in taking up the case but starts his investigation on the insistence of his superior. As Ashwin starts investigating, he realizes that several aspects of the case have been overlooked by the police and the investigating team. He gets convinced about the parents’ innocence. On the other hand, there is another investigating team which is hell bent on proving that the Tandons are responsible for the murder of their daughter.
Talvar takes the route followed by the legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa for his film ‘Rashomon’ (1950) and offers three different standpoints on the incident. The writer (Vishal Bhardwaj) and the director (Meghna Gulzar) have done a tremendous research on the subject and that is evident in the final product. They try to remain neutral while offering the viewers with different possibilities. However, at times you do feel that are in favour of the parents and believe them to be innocent. What is also ignored is the fact the main protagonist (Irrfan Khan) sides with the parents. Having said that, you would not blame the makers for doing so, as they have clearly done their research and the facts that come up during the course of the narrative justify their stance.
The film throws light on the various loopholes in India’s justice system and shows how negligence by people who are a part of it, could prove to be fatal for those who seek justice. The film maintains a brisk pace throughout. The otherwise grim narrative is spruced by dollops of dark humour which, in most of the occasions, ads weight to the drama. There is a sub-plot involving Irrfan’s troubled relationship with his wife Reema (Tabu). The track offers some warm moments but threatens to digress the viewers from the main plot.
Irrfan gets a role meaty enough to sink his teeth into. He gets tremendous scope to show a plethora of emotions and he comes out with flying colours as always. Konkona Sen Sharma effectively portrays the vulnerability of a mother who has lost her child. After his villainous turn in ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)’, Neeraj Kabi plays a character that comes across as submissive for most part. The actor also shines as he plays the angst ridden man in one of the tracks. Sohum Shah leaves a huge mark as ACP Vedant Mishra. Watch out for the scene in which he squalls at Inspector Dhaniram (Gajraj Rao). Atul Kumar gets some brilliant dialogues. He is excellent in dramatic moments and brings in a touch of humour in a couple of scenes. Ayesha Parveen, who plays Shruti, has a brief role but her presence can be felt throughout the film. Tabu’s (cameo) character is not incidental to the main plot but she brings in so much depth to her character that you wish to see more of her. Sumit Gulati is terrific as Kanhaiya.
Meghna Gulzar makes a comeback to direction after eight years. She seems to have used the time to refine her skills as the film is miles ahead of anything she has made earlier. Meghna is aided by an extremely well researched script, written by Vishal Bhardwaj that bring to the fore almost all the important details of the case. The humour has been smartly incorporated in the script. Pankaj Kumar, who has films like ‘Haider’ and ‘Ship Of Theseus’ to his credit, gives a raw and edgy feel to the film while treating the viewers with some memorable frames. The songs (Vishal Bhardwaj), heard in bits and pieces in the film, make a solid impact as they arrive at the right time. The background score (Vishal Bhardwaj) helps in elevating the drama. The editing (A Sreeekar Prasad) is top notch. The sound design (Shajith Koyeri) is another plus.
‘Talvar’ is a very sensitive and mature take on an incident that sent shockwaves throughout India. The film presents the viewers with important information pertaining to the case while keeping them deeply engrossed in the proceedings. It is that rare film which implores you to think, introspect and discuss about the world we live in.