Director: Meghna Gulzar
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj
Kabi, Tabu, Sohum Shah, Atul Kumar, Gajraj Rao By Saibal
It is nearly two years since the parents of Aarushi Talwar were
convicted for her murder, but many facets of the sensational case
still remain trapped in the realms of wild conjecture. Meghna
Gulzar's Talvar sets out to put those unanswered questions
back in the public domain. It does a very good job of it.
To begin with, the director, making a comeback after a long
hiatus, does not baulk at the sensitive nature of the subject. She
treats the complex themes inherent in the tale with mellow
confidence and an unwavering sense of balance. Talvar
delves into the unresolved issues pertaining to the 2008 Noida
double murder case in the light of details drawn from research and
the court proceedings.
Working with a marvellous screenplay by the film's co-producer
and music composer Vishal Bhardwaj, the director delivers a low-key
but hugely effective drama that works at several levels. Talvar is
an impressive achievement as much for its consistent restraint as
for the riveting quality of the narrative.
The film is much more than just a tale of a real-life murder
most foul. With deft and insightful touches, the director etches
out a social portrait aimed at articulating truths about the kind
of society we live in. The film turns the spotlight both on the
circumstances surrounding the actual crime as well as on the three
separate investigations that were conducted in the case.
Talvar goes well beyond the scope of a crime drama to
proffer a sharp examination of the many divides and prejudices that
define a rapidly changing urban India. The gallery of characters is
made up primarily of the parents (Neeraj Kabi and Konkona
Sensharma), the principal investigating officer (Irrfan Khan), his
assistant (Sohum Shah) and a bunch of incompetent, insensitive
Noida policemen. The clash of cultures is most stark in the
exchanges between the accused and the Uttar Pradesh policemen
entrusted with the initial crime scene investigation.
The Tandons that is the name given in the film to the Talwars
are an upper-crust family exposed to social mores that the cops
can barely grasp, let alone sympathise with. Talvar the title
refers to the rarely used and rusting sword in the right hand of
the Lady of Justice also places the electronic media in the dock
for its unseemly overreach in its reportage of the double
The film probes the internal dynamics of India's premier
investigation agency in keeping with other alterations of names,
it referred to as Central Department of Investigation (CDI) here
and the wild rumour mongering that was fanned by sleaze-obsessed
journalists. Talvar is served fantastically well by its
entire cast, and not just the principal actors. Irrfan is on the
top of his game, as are Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sensharma.
In a brief appearance as the investigating officer's estranged
wife, Tabu makes a deep impression. Gajraj Rao, in the guise of the
uncouth, paan-chewing inspector who takes next to no time to
declare the murder an open and shut case, and English-language
theatre pro Atul Kumar, playing the pure Hindi-speaking officer,
Talvar is a compelling piece of cinema. Not to be missed.