Author: Dr. Mandar ---

Year: 2015
Director: Meghana Gulzar
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen, Neeraj Kabi, Tabu

Very few court cases have ever generated the kind of intrigue and interest that the infamous Aarushi Talwar murder case has.

Just revisit the scenario.  A teenaged girl, just 10 days before her 15th birthday, is found murdered in her bedroom. Her man-servant is also found dead on the terrace of the house. Both of them have been killed at night by slitting their neck with a sharp weapon. The girl’s parents, both doctors with flourishing practice, claim that they were totally unaware of the grisly happenings in the house as they were fast asleep in the adjoining bedroom! Doesn’t it sound like an Agatha Christie murder mystery plot?

To top that the investigating agencies- first the UP cops and then the CBI keep flip-flopping about their probable suspects. First the cops blame the father for killing the daughter in a fit of rage after finding her in a compromising situation with the servant. Later the CBI starts pointing fingers at the servant’s friends. Then the case against the father is withdrawn for lack of evidence and so is the case against the outsider suspects. Then the case is re-investigated and both the parents (who actually demanded the re-investigation!) are convicted and sentenced for killing their own daughter and their domestic help!

The twists and turns, and about turns, involved in this real life whodunit drama have already inspired a film Rahasya, which flavoured it with some typical Bollywood masala. But Talvar takes the realistic route and that makes it far more effective. Vishal Bhardwaj (who has co-produced this film) writes the story, which mostly stays faithful to the actual case and Meghana Gulzar directs it with flair. Together they keep the audience totally glued to the screen with a film that is gritty and even gruesome at times. It shows in detail the purported crime and the contrasting investigative methods and findings. It presents different possibilities of what could have happened that night and does that disturbingly well. It definitely sympathizes with the parents and openly mocks at the botched up inept investigations.

It is a strong plot-driven film, which becomes more watchable because of a fine ensemble featuring Irrfan Khan as the CBI investigator; Konkona Sen and Neeraj Kabi as the accused parents and a host of little known actors in memorable character roles.

A definitive bias in story-telling and a few needless sequences (especially those involving Tabu as Irrfan’s screen wife!)  do not take away much from Talvar. It still remains a gripping murder mystery, a well-scripted, well-executed docudrama that in the end leaves you with far more questions than answers! It makes us think-‘What if that’s the way it actually happened?’ What if….! And inevitably the next question that pops up in mind is: ‘Has the justice really been served?’


3.5 stars

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