Talvar Movie Review

Friday, October 2, 2015
In his autobiography, Akira Kurosawa explained how his classic film Rashomon is the perfect shadowplay of truth and memory. Writer Vishal Bhardwaj and his director Meghna Gulzar adapt the same principle and  keep the story of Talvar both true and false. A tempting whodunit, Talvar - based on the Aarushi Talwar murder case - strikes a chord because of its gruesomeness. Aborted justice and police callousness, besides many other pertinent themes of the faulty judicial system are exposed in this valiant film. Blending in system's ineptitude in delivering justice rightfully in this case, with the trauma of the parents whose ordinary lives suddenly became subject to scrutiny and character assassination, the film's biggest high is that there isn't a shade of melodrama in it. It has documentary-style narration and the overpowering sense of tragedy is infused by the pitch perfect rendering of its stellar actors - Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sensharma, besides the infallible Irrfan.

The film is boldly explorative and though diplomatic in taking a definite stance , considering the Noida double murder case is still sub-judice, the film comes off as a staunch take on the procedural more than the case itself. The devastated family takes the centerstage as the film's drama is all centered around them, but the focus is maintained on how the justice dispensing system in India is a cracked one. Irrfan is in one of his most memorable characters and Koko and Neeraj are equally enthralling.

But, Talvar shines because of its loftily detailed screenplay. It is hard to find suspense in a widely discussed case like Aarushi's. It is inevitable to be aware of every detail, prominent and petty ones alike, given the amount of media interest in the murder. As in a recent interview, Vishal said this case shook the idea of familial love which forms the basis of society, it is actually these extremely anamolistic tendencies that caught attention. Vishal has selectively condensed the various theories of the case and has bound it into a coherent narrative, which is clearly empathetic towards the convicted parents but never says it in those words.
It is sharp and gritty and never loses its drift. 

While in the first hour of the film, the plots stays close to media reports citing two stark mystery-solution scenarios, the third version of the film which unfolds over its last 20 minutes is laced with black humour, reveals a vital detail and undoes everything that your mind had so far comprehended. How the film further knots up into a startling and persuasive climax is gratifying.

However, it undeniably leans heavily towards the parents, and that's a lingering view which is hard-to-be-missed. Ramesh and Nutan Tandon (screen names of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar) always maintain innocent eyes. And in the version, that depicts them as culprits, they are too gimmicky, bordering on silly, something that seems to be done deliberately. And yet, they are the most toneless characters in the film. They are flat all-through, suffering from poor characterization. had it not been for Konkona and Neeraj, there was hardly any mettle to display, which could've compromised the film. 

But, it is Irrfan as the top-cop who is the right mix of brawn and brain. Vishal, who was closely associated with CBI officer Arun Kumar, on whom Ashvin's character is based, there is a lot of heart with which his character is developed. His moments are the film's peaks. Infact, the characters in the CBI team benefit from good writing which stems from Vishal's affinity towards such parts. 

It is easy to pardon most flaws in this film. Be it the uneven pacing of the first half, or the flawed characters. Because, the film is grounded in thorough research. Its focus is always on the discrepancies of the investigation. The case's intricacies are fluidly put on screen. It is a shocking brush with reality to realize the carelessness with which the UP police has botched up the case. The film's documentation of the chain of incidents is laudable. 

As the story moves over to probe bureaucratic politics and the subsequent face-offs, the film's haunting climax stays and syncs long after the film draws to a close. The media claims to be government's watchdog, the police and the bureaucracy affirm to be protectors and in the end it is appalling how justice is too far from these 'responsible' factions in times of dire need. 

As we bow down to Meghna and Vishal for their enduring tale on a defective system, it's time we sit back and ponder how justice's blood-stained sword needs the polishing a few more audacious exposes like Talvar.

We rate the film a 80% 


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