Talvar is a four-edged question

talvar-posters

“The truth is helpless when up against perception.” This quote by Zack W. Van kind of sums up the essence of Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar. Terming Talvar a film would be a misnomer. Docu-film will make it seem yawn-worthy. Blockbuster is simply not it was meant to be. The most befitting description for Talvar is perhaps a question mark.

Based on Arushi Talwar case, Talvar is question, personified or rather cinefied. Unanswered, unquestioned, unthinkable, unmentionable, and unconventional – Questions of every kind greet the audience, right from the first frame to the haunting closing credits punctuated by Rekha Bhardwaj’s soulful rendition.  It’s these questions that make Talvar a compelling watch and most importantly, it makes you introspect deeply instead of pointing fingers at our police, court or government.

A ‘Rashomon’ (Akira Kurosawa’s classic) narrative locks horns with ‘12 Angry Men’ (Sidney Lumet) or ‘Ek ruka hua faisla’ (Basu Chatterjee) with a screenplay that maneuvers you through the labyrinthine lanes of investigation led by the terrific actor Irrfan Khan. As Ashwin Kumar, the CDI investigator (modeled around CBI Investigator Arun Kumar IPS), the actor owns each frame he features in. Nonchalance, vigilance, frustration, dry humour, grief, love and anger – the actor changes each emotion with a chameleon ease and veteran charm.

Talvar has an interesting ensemble of actors, right from Konkona Sensharma as Nutan Tandon (Arushi’s mother Nupur Talwar), Neeraj Kabi as Ramesh Tandon (Arushi’s father Rajesh Talwar), Sohum Shah as Ashwin Kumar’s assistant, Sumit Gulati (Quite a find), and Tabu, who makes her presence despite a cameo role. Konkana Sensharma and Neeraj Kabi elicit sympathy for their roles of helpless parents, but in the same breath, they make you suspect, thanks to the brilliant writing by Vishal Bhardwaj.

Pankaj Kumar shoots the film sans filters of a commercial film and doesn’t hesitate to call spade a spade. A. Sreekar Prasad lends the sharp edge that a film like Talvar deserves, wherein the film stops to linger over a moment when it has to, and races past when actually required, minus the indulgences witnessed in most of Vishal Bhardwaj films. It’s the pace and treatment that distinguishes Talvar from Vishal Bhardwaj films and makes Meghna Gulzar one of the most promising directors we will ever have.

The director takes the mantle of veteran Gulzar’s (Who also pens lyrics for the film) ‘Mere apne’, ‘Parichay’, ‘Achanak’, ‘Koshish’, ‘Maachis’, and of course the oft-mentioned-in-the-film, ‘Ijaazat’ to a completely different level. Despite a conscious effort at narrating an unbiased story, Meghna Gulzar does hint at her version of the ‘Rashomon’ narrative, especially the way it ends. So that leaves much less for the audience to decide – that’s the only grouse against the film.

In hindsight, it still feels justified because a pure unbiased narration would have left the audience nowhere. To sum it up, Talvar richly rewards us a new perspective of watching films or even those ‘Breaking News’ bombarded 24×7. Well, it also gifts us a promising director, Meghna Gulzar, who must have surely made Gulzar proud. One can’t resist sharing this wonderful poem he’d written for her, titled, ‘Bosky ke liye’, which might be a relevant advice for her future ventures:

Kuch khwabon ke khat inmein,
Kuch chaand ke aaine.

Suraj ki shayari hain,
Shayron ke lifafe hain,

Kuch mere tajurbe hain,
Kuch meri duyaein hain.

Nikloge safar pe jab,
Yeh saath mein le lena

Shayad kahin kaam aaye…
Translation

Some letters from dreams,
Some mirrors from the moon.

The Sun’s poetry,
Envelopes full of  poems.

Some of my experiences,
Some filled with my blessings

When you leave on your journey,
Take them along

They might come handy…

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