When I was a 16-year-old girl in Delhi, the infamous Aarushi Talwar Murder Case was something everyone was following extremely closely. What was it about the case that had turned an entire nation into voyeurs in the year 2008? Every detail of the case was told, retold, broken down and analyzed. The conclusions varied from rape to revenge and everything in between, and at least one person in each household went ‘iss par toh film banni chahiye!’
Lo and behold, the day has arrived!
Meghna Gulzar directed a stellar screenplay by Vishal Bhardwaj, brought some amazing actors on board and called the movie Talvar (pun intended, I’m sure). The film attempts to extensively showcase all sides of the double murder (Aarushi and Hemraj’s) and does it exceedingly well.
Issues like sensationalism in the media (the good ol’ days of Sansani), long TV discussions with panelists that have nothing to do with the case (hi Shobha De!) and incompetence of the police force are brought up in the film. Personally, I loved the chunks that showed how desensitized the police probably is because murder and crime scenes are this regular to them. It’s also a great testament to Meghna’s skills as a filmmaker that she manages to make the audience laugh ever so often, in the middle of super intense sequences.
Even though the script is king in the venture, Irrfan Khan comes pretty damn close to dethroning it. Yup, there are times when Khan, as Ashwin Kumar (CBI), elevates the script just by being in the scene. I personally love whodunits where the investigator’s personal life starts getting affected by the case he’s on and Irrfan’s character fit my little check box in that department too. His brilliance in the film almost makes me sad as his next outing is Jazbaa.
Neeraj Kabi, unsurprisingly, fits his character as the victim girl’s father and Konkona Sen Sharma brings understated strength to the mother’s character brilliantly. I think I’d forgotten how nuanced an actress she is. A special shout out to Sohum Shah who plays Irrfan’s sidekick and Atul Kumar who steps in as part of the second CBI team. But that is not to say that all characters, big or small, have not been handpicked with utmost care.
The research team of the film is absolutely on point and so is the background score by Bhardwaj. My heart also warmed up a little when it witnessed a special cameo by a wonderful veteran female actress and her scenes with Irrfan evoked a strange sense of nostalgia. The appearance, though, was as redundant as it was heartwarming, but I guess she was brought on to humanize Ashwin Kumar’s character a little more.
The climax of the film is definitely the most exciting part of the film and it also reveals a shocking detail about the real-life case that most of us might not even be aware of. There are two sides to the case and I found myself inclining towards Irrfan’s version of the investigation.
If I had to pick a flaw in the movie it would probably be that it drags every now and then. But I can’t imagine a Rashomon-esque storytelling without the risk of it slowing down the plot a little bit.
In a world where the headline that screams the loudest becomes the seeming truth, Talvar attempts to present all possible headlines in similar volumes. I would suggest you stop reading this review right now and go watch Talvar in theaters already. You can thank me later.