Thursday, October 08, 2015

Movie Review: Talvar

Movie Review Talvar
Source: Google Images

Movie Details. . .

Title: Talvar
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Script: Vishal Bhardwaj
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Genre: Documentary Thriller
Running Time: 132 Minutes
Language: Hindi
Rating: 3.5/5

Plot Summary. . .

Talvar, is a fictionalized version of the infamous 2008 double murder case of Noida involving Talwar family, wherein 14 year old Aarushi Talwar and family’s 45 year old servant Hemraj were found murdered. After a prolonged investigation, Aarushi’s parents were convicted in the case basis the circumstantial evidence and they remain imprisoned while their appeal is pending before the Hon’ble High Court.

The film starts off with the senior officers of CDI (Central Department of Investigation, based on Central Bureau of Investigation) handing over the dubious double murder case to one of its most capable office Ashwin Kumar (character based on CBI Investigating Office Arun Kumar, played by Irfan Khan). The film then traces the events leading to the murder and critical junctures of the interim investigation done by UP Police. A 14 Year old girl Shruti Tandon (character based on Aarushi Talwar) is found murdered in her room one morning by her parents Ramesh Tandon (character based on Aarushi Talwar’s father Rajesh Talwar, played by Neeraj Kabi) and Nutan Tandon (character based on Aarushi Talwar’s mother Nupur Talwar, played by Konkona Sen Sharma). As the local police start the investigation, they presume it as an open and shut case with the missing servant Khempal (character based on Talwar family’s servant Hemraj) being the prime suspect of the murder.

However, with the discovery of Khempal’s half decomposed body later on the terrace of the building, the police are left in a lurch with a jumble of packs to solve and decipher. In a series of questioning, they interrogate Kanahiya, Ramesh Tandon’s assistant, who motor mouths self-made facts about Talwar’s and their daughter Shruti. As the pressure mounts, the police declare the murders as a case of Honour Killing and charge Ramesh Tandon with the crime. As the public outrage about the declaration rises, the case is handed over to CDI for further investigation and report submission.

The CDI team led by Ashwin Kumar and team investigates the case thoroughly and consequently unearth the anomalies and lapses in initial investigation by local police, which caused the contamination of almost all the evidences and thereby devoiding them of any probable leads to solve the case. As the probe and examination proceeds, Ashwin Kumar develops a belief that Shruti parents might actually be innocent and brick by brick builds up a case against their assistance and his accomplices. However, just when Ashwin Kumar is about to conclude the investigation, the old CDI chief retires, and a new one takes over who tricks Ashwin's assistant in the greed of power to work against him. Consequently, a new team takes over and conducts the investigation in a pre-decided manner, carving out a story justifying initial investigations holding Tandon’s as guilty.

Does Tandons finally manage to prove their innocence? Why does their assistant conspire against them? What are the circumstances that cause the murders of Shruti and Khempal?

Watch the movie to unknot the thread and know the answers of the above.

My Thoughts. . .

The Aarushi murder case has been one of the most unfortunate and disturbing crime mystery in recent times which still await its resolution. And going by years’ long impasse the case witnessed and also its underlying events, it might always remain a mystery ever. ‘Talvar’ representing the dramatized version of the murder case is actually shocking and outrageous – ‘shocking’ as it so clearly portrays the incompetency of our current legal system (and investigating agencies) which beetles over the edge & ‘outrageous’ as it puts all – the ever judgmental society, the never diligent impatient media and the sluggish legal system – under the scanner for being so tolerant. And in that sense, I feel the movie succeeds in doing what it was expected to do. It truly reveals that the truth can at times be stranger than the fiction. Without drawing hard conclusions, it presents various viewpoints to the viewers before finally leaving it to their best judgment to decide and conclude.

Though, the movie does appear to be titled towards the parents showcasing them as innocent, framed up and the victim of a botched up investigation, still if there’s even an iota of truth in the way the facts have been presented herein, it surely has been a catastrophic experience for the couple – convicted with the murder of their only child, in the web of events which defamed the departed soul and also their own worthiness.

Direction, Script & Story

Scripting and directing a documentary thriller which is based upon the real events is a daunting task as one need to be perfect in narration and more than perfect in its execution. ‘Talvar’ scores heavily on this front. While Vishal Bhardwaj has penned a perfect script, Meghna Gulzar has executed the same in almost similar fashion. The makers say a lot of research has gone into the script, but the same do at places appear to be inclined towards the parents and that, somewhat, make the script a bit far from being unbiased (the caveat remains that since the truth is yet unknown both sides of the story exist).

Vishal Bhardwaj has a knack of helming his creations in a perfect manner. Almost all his directorial ventures speak heavily of his caliber as a writer and director, and in each of his films the script remains a real hero. He continues his finesse in this one too and is complimented well by the director Meghna Gulzar. It’s her first movie which I have watched (though I wanted to watch Filhaal as well) and was well contented with the outcome. The movie starts off well but somehow loses a bit of its steam in between before the intermission and appears to drag at places in the first half. On the contrary, the second half blazes across a bit too well in such a riveting manner that it does make up for the lapses. More importantly, kudos to the team for picking up such a dubious case and present the same chronologically to the viewers for assessment and ascertainment.


Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar make up a deadly combo with former weaving a perfect melody for the unusual lyrics of the later. As one would expect, the music of Talvar is different, scoring high with its soulful melodies and melancholic symphony. As the script does not really demands the space for any songs therein, songs are kept to the minimum in the movie. Though there are four songs in the film, none of them appear full-fledged in the movie – only couple of lines of them plays in the background at various junctures.

Insaaf rendered by the Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab is a haunting number sung beautifully by the singer crying with the hope that justice will prevail one day. The piano & strings slowly played in the background and low – high notes of the song make it a beautiful number.

Sukhwinder Singh has sung Patli Gali in his traditional style which reminds of many of his past renditions like ‘Ibn Batuta pehan ke joota’, the music has the essence of folk blended well into it. There is nothing extraordinary about the song but it is still hummable and fits well into overall album setting.

Zinda sung beautifully by Rekha Bhardwaj, is perhaps the best number of the album. It is again a slow number which slowly croons and rises on the listener’s imagination and has that feeling of pain and longing aesthetically rendered, in all the department viz. music, lyrics and singing.

Shaam ke saaye again continues with the melody and finesse of Zinda with Arijit Singh whispering the melancholic vocals amidst the silent music running in the background. Not the usual Arijit Singh number though, this haunting melody will surely find its place listener’s mind after few hearings.

Acting & Other Aspects

While Vishal Bhardwaj’s brilliantly penned script wins half of the battle, the other half is won by the stupendous performance of its actors – not just the lead actors but almost each one of them.

Needless to say, Irfan Khan is effortless and immaculate in his rendering of CDI investigation officer, Ashwin Kumar. He is surely one of the best actors we currently have and his acting skills by no manner need credentials. The ease and fluency with which he carries on the role giving varied expressions in different scenes, adding his trademark style in each of them, is marvelous.

Konkona Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi do justice to their respective roles and manage to carry that sad and dubious look expected from their character. The pathos, the scare, and the uncertainty show well on their faces. However, they do appear a bit under-utilized at some places, given the kind of actors they are, the director couldn’t draw a superlative performance from them holistically.

Tabu, in a special appearance, looks as graceful as ever but unfortunately, her role has nothing to offer to the overall script and thus she does appear redundant at places.

Another high point of the performances comes up from the second line actors who deliver commendable performances. Gajraj Rao as Inspector Dhaniram (local police officer doing investigations), Prakash Belawadi as retiring CDI chief, Sohum Shah as investigating office Vedant (assisting Irfan Khan) and Atul Kumar as rival investigating officer Paul, are all so powerful in their respective roles (especially Gajraj Rao) that their combined performances makes up for all the minor lapses in other areas of the movie making.

The Final Word. . .

Talvar is a riveting account of the Aarushi murder case which evokes shock, anger and shame in the viewer and puts the ever-judgmental society, the never-diligent & impatient media, and the sluggish legal system into a scanner. It hits hard and makes us think about the various ‘What If’ scenarios which could have been but for the botching investigation and sluggish trial – What If, the parents have not murdered their only child. . .What If, it was not the case of Honor Killing but a revenge murder saga. . .What If, there was no sexual angle involved in the murder as alleged by the investigating agencies thereby defaming the little soul. . .What If, the deceased servant did actually consider her as his daughter. . .What If, the assistant and his accomplices who were freed devoid of any conclusive evidence, had actually killed the girl.

Talvar needs to be watched for the justice which needs to prevail. The long forgotten memory needs to be scratched and the unexplored strings needs to be discovered from the oblivion for if there had been lapses in the investigation (which, as it appears, surely were), these should be adequately cured.

Rating: 3.5/5

Watch The Trailer. . .

Watch the trailer of the movie here.

~Shubh Life . . . Om Sai Ram

© 2015 Manish Purohit (Reserved)

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