Talvar, based on the Arushi Talwar murder case, is riveting. Arushi’s murder case was controversial with twists and turns where an assistant and two domestic helps were initially arrested and finally her parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were convicted even though CBI had sought to discharge the case due to gaps in evidence. To remain balanced yet keep the viewers hooked in such a complex story mixed with rumors and gossip, is a challenging task and Talvar accomplishes the task beautifully.
The film takes the actual case and proceedings and mixes additional fictional details. Names are close but not the same- Arushi is Shruti, Talwar becomes Tandon, CBI becomes CDI, so that the makers can present different possibilities. Vishal Bhardwaj’s screenplay unravels Rashomon style, with three separate investigating teams providing divergent theories. There’s a scene in which two investigating teams sit across each other and fight and ridicule each other to get their points across. One team even literally calls the other a joke.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s script is the real hero. The viewer is drawn to the narrative, at times aghast the way our police investigation works and how we condemn based on media reports even before court delivers its verdict.
Irfan Khan as Ashwin Kumar towers over others in his performance, Gajraj Rao as Dhaniram, the first police officer in the case, gives a solid performance. Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sen Sharma as Ramesh and Nutan Tandon (Shruti’s parents) are adequate. Tabu has a tiny cameo, but her role feels out of place in the narrative.
This film does slant towards the murdered girl’s parents. Their statement is taken at face value without questioning. Talvar is unsentimental and free from melodrama and the film proceeds at a fair speed. It casts the legal system as a flawed system, society as judgmental and media as impatient and voyeuristic. A must watch.
Rating : 4/5
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Ayesha Parveen, Neeraj Kabi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sohum Shah, Gajraj Rao, Atul Kumar
Director: Meghna Gulzar