Talvar —An open-ended tale

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Irfan-KhanA fictional dramatisation of a true life event has its limitations. Just as the film-maker is quite conscious of the subject’s history, the audience is also informed about the sequence of events following the incident. Taking that into consideration, Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar must have been a difficult movie to make. Based on India’s biggest ‘unsolved’ murder mystery— the Aarushi- Hemraj murders — Talvar opens with the introduction of the chief investigating officer, Ashwin Kumar (played by Irrfan Khan). At the annual function of the investigation agency, Ashwin is asked to take the case. While the official case led to the conviction of Aarushi’s parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, Gulzar’s Talvar opens the possibility of multiple narratives. Herein, the movie takes a similar trajectory to that seen earlier in the 1950 Japanese period drama Rashomon.

Talvar promises to stand as an objective spectator. It tells us why it isn’t easy to play Sherlock Holmes and nab the killers all the time. Once the police discover the body of the 14-yearold Shruti Tandon (played by Ayesha Parveen), they immediately point fingers at the missing servant Khempal. This discovery is done at the expense of the investigation, which is very similar to the facts of the actual case. However, as soon as the investigating officers discover the body of Khempal, the parents become prime suspects.

Soon the double murder is seen as a case of honour killing and the police take Ramesh Tandon (Neeraj Kabi) into custody. As the police float theories and speculation that character-assassinates Shruti, the case is taken over by Kumar. From here on, the movie becomes a powerful statement. Believing that the parents had nothing to do with the murder of the child, he strives to bring the possibility of an alternative scenario and prove that the parents are innocent.

Presenting three narratives variously showing the parents to be guilty and not guilty, Gulzar plays on the element of doubt that creeps into our mind at every turn. Wouldn’t it have to be the parents who killed the child if they were the only ones at the scene? Couldn’t they be innocent? We ponder over the mystery as end credits roll.

Deepti Sreeram

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