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'Talvar' review: Sharp and Incisive!

'Talvar' review: Sharp and Incisive!

Source: Sonia Chopra

By: Sonia Chopra

Thursday 1 October 2015

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Movie Title

Talvar

Director

Meghna Gulzar

Star Cast

Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi

Like a breath of fresh air to parched lungs, here comes this film with its perfect balance of sobriety and cruelly dark humour.

Perfectly titled, the film is a sharp and incisive take on the 2008 Noida double murder case, in which a 13-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her family servant were found murdered, and where the parents were convicted for the crime. And Talvar stands as much for the sword in the hands of the Lady Justice statue, as much as the Talwar family.

As in Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, we're told the story from several perspectives. In the end, one CBI team insists it's the parents that are guilty; while another says that accomplices of the servant committed the crime.

One thing the film makes crystal: that the initial investigation was shoddily conducted, and that the honour killing motive was announced without substantial proof. We are shown the insensitivity of the police that gets the victim's name wrong in a press conference, claims that the parents swapped partners, and make ludicrous comments to the effect that "the parents are as character-less as the daughter was."

Every investigation follows its own luck, and this one fell on particularly hard times. While dedicated CBI officer Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan) stops at nothing to unearth the facts, he is appalled at the initial callous investigation that could have nailed the culprit easily.

It's horrifying to see a case about to be solved, led off-track by something as inconsequential as petty inter-departmental politics.

The film's finale has the two opposing teams spell out their case, while covertly supporting one of the theories. Like many media opinions off-late, including journalist Avirook Sen's book Aarushi, the film subtly sides with the parents.

Director Meghna Gulzar's beautifully textured storytelling style and writer-producer Vishal Bhardwaj's assured writing make sure you're consistently engrossed. Meghna adds texture when she gives a fair amount of time to a charming gathering for a CBI chief's retirement; when we peek into officer Ashwin's personal life; when we get to see how the police works in a crime investigation. We're on the edge of our seats at one moment, disturbed in the other, and chuckling the next moment.

The film conjures up deliciously dark humour, lending a breather to the audience. There is the well-deserved dig at TV news reports. The cop singing a folk song in a room, to test how much noise reaches the adjoining room. And the final face-off between the two teams that makes us cringe, while also letting off a grin at the acerbic comments.

The performances are stellar across the board, with Irrfan Khan standing out for the crackerjack dialogue and adding heart to his role as the earnest CBI cop.

Talvar is an ace, as it makes us wonder about human behavior. That a murder investigation could take such an ugly turn, owing to inept work, jaded officials, corruption and in-house rivalries is a tragedy of the highest order.

In the end, the film reminds us of Aarushi Talwar, who would have turned 22 next March. It was a life cut short cruelly, and what could be more tragic than the fact that the case still awaits closure. Watch the film as a testament to the saying that truth indeed is stranger than fiction.

Rating: 4.5 stars