Riveting and suspenseful police investigation into an Indian double homicide. Based on an actual case, it is both an excellent mystery thriller, and a commentary on the Indian press, justice system and class divides. The narrative is sharp and witty.
Meghna Gulzar | India| 2016 | 132 mins | 15
“…Talvar isn’t as much about the brilliant performances as it is about mature storytelling. It shakes you up, and forces you to think — about administrative negligence and internal politics, and about our own role as voyeurs, gleefully consuming gossip-laced ‘details’ with little care for authenticity.” – Hindustan Times of India.
This film is based on a true story. On the 16th May 2008 schoolgirl Aarphi Talwar’s dead body was found at home. Her throat was slit. She had a fatal head wound. The following day, the family’s servant, Hemraj, was found dead on the roof of their house. The Indian Court found Aarushi’s parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar guilty of their murder on 26th November 2013 and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The parents’ appeal hearing has not been scheduled yet. Since the Indian Courts are working through appeals dating from the 1980s there is little prospect of a judicial review in the near future.
‘Talvar’ follows on from a book supporting Rajesh and Talwar by Avirook Sen. It also clearly takes their side. Director Meghna Gulzar and writer Vishal Bhardwaj present the story from the viewpoint of the investigative teams, without really giving us any sense of the parents’ emotions, allowing us to enjoy the film as a crime thriller. The lead investigator, Ashwin Kumar, played by Irrfan Khan is superb – dry, witty and laconic. His assistant, Soham Shah is his excellent foil; so eager to please he bangs a spoon on a pot to give his boss a beat. The parents are played with heart-breaking normality. The rest of the investigators are stereotypes, sometimes overblown ones, to emphasise the story’s message.
The commentary on the Indian media, judiciary and police forms an important part of this classic whodunit and opens up a wide avenue of enquiry for us as the film’s audience. This is an unflinching film, but is not without absurdity and humour. The scene where the opposing investigators laugh at each other’s theories in a round-table discussion is brutally and irresistibly hilarious.
This film is part of the Indian New Wave or Art Cinema movement known for its serious neo-realism and commentary on the current socio-political climate. It is quite distinct from mainstream Bollywood cinema. The most famous name in this movement is the great Bengali auteur Satyajit Ray, one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the world.
Weighted vote 72.8%