And Justice For All
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Konkana Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah
Directed by: Meghna Gulzar
Duration: 2 hrs 12 mins
Rating: * * * *
Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar is one of those rare films where what is being said is much more than what is being shown on the screen. Based on the Aarushi Talwar murder case which was debated and dissected endlessly in the media for quite a while, Talvar tells us of what possibly could have happened on that fateful night. This is our Rashomon.
As the old adage goes, truth is stranger than fiction and that is another point that Talvar proves. There are two aspects to the story. First, it is a Sherlockian mystery as to what exactly happened and how, so there is an element of suspense and mystery. Second and more importantly, it is also a telling commentary of the system and the world that we live in. Heaven help if you are caught on the wrong side of the law – except the truth, all other factors will decide your fate and that is rather ironic to say the least.
Talvar is less of a cookie cutter film and more of an enactment of the events that keeps you gripped right from the first frame. A maid comes to the house of the Tandon’s (Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sen Sharma) only to find that the door is locked from outside. Once that issue is sorted out, the parents discover the dead body of their daughter Shruti whose throat is slit. Khempal, their domestic help is the prime suspect and since he is missing, it appears to be an open and shut case. But the next day, his body is found on the terrace of the same building. These basic facts are out in the public domain for a long time now but only those who have followed the case with more than casual interest will know the details about how the investigation was completely botched up by the police. For them it is a simple matter of honor killing but then there are discrepancies.
The case is then handed over to the CDI (an obvious allusion to the CBI) and one of their bright officers, Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan, terrific as usual) explores the case. “Next time you see a blood stained impression of the palm don’t forget to take a fingerprint” he reprimands the cop sarcastically.
The screenplay offers different points of view of the people involved. They all have a different story to tell and it is only towards the end that the film makers have taken a side which actually works because they don’t push the point too hard. The possibilities are presented, a conclusion is drawn but you are also given enough fodder to draw your conclusions. The farcical manner in which the case was to be closed is comic and yet terrifying and therein lies the triumph of Talvar.
The screenplay sucks you in to the extent that you forget you are watching a film – there are the odd strands like Ashwin’s marital discord or the familiar media trial which take you out of that world but not for too long.
For a movie to be that effective the other aspects of film making also have to come together. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is from the top draw and Ketan Sodha’s background score is remarkable.
The ensemble cast deserves applause. Neeraj Kabi (of ship of Theseus fame) and Konkana Sen Sharma as the distraught parents are apt. Gajraj Rao as the police officer fits the bill and ditto with Atul Kumar as the new investigation officer. Soham Shah as the cool as a cucumber deputy hits all the right notes. The film though rests on Irrfan Khan who has added yet another spectacular performance to his already impressive resumé. This actor just can’t put a foot wrong.
All said and seen, the arm of the law maybe long but it is not long enough to do justice for all.