Talvar - Review

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

Talvar is a disturbing film – at more levels than one. Why should you watch it then? Because we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the system we live in, even if the system itself is so.

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Did a father murder his daughter with her mother as an accomplice? A deep chill runs down the spine irrespective of the answer. If yes, it means a person who belongs to the same economic and educational strata as ours can commit such a heinous crime. If no, it implies they are mourning in a jail – both the death of their daughter and their baffling misfortune. That the film leaves you thinking about the characters involved in itself is proof that it did justice to the case, whether or justice was done in the case.

It is not that we don't know what humans are capable of. In fact, nothing I hear in the news shocks me any more. I am sure, often enough, we can find a news item which had we seen in a film, we would have scoffed a, “that cannot happen in real life”. If women can be raped by order of a governing body – quasi and unelected as it may be - for her brother's fault/crime, anything can happen. If a father can kill a daughter for not making food the shape he likes it, anything can happen. And of course, the Arushi double-murder case is anything but unheard of.

Having desensitized myself so, I feel more capable of handling the ruthlessness of the true life world that this movie is about to unfold. With my sketicism of what is reported by media, I hadn't followed the case back then, in too much detail. I decided, as always, to not research too much before watching the film. It let's me watch a film such as this like a film and not give in to real-life drama.

All well-intentioned attempt at balance aside, the film draws you in. At first, the events seem episodic; the back-and-forth and point-of-view repetition seems like a cinematic gimmick (of course, Rashomon-usque. But then, you get drawn in and you only wonder how many episodes they must've had to leave out to stick to the 2-hour time limit.

The casting is flawless – and regular readers would know, I don't use blanket statements easily. Gajraj Rao's pace and ineptitude gets on your nerves, quite like the frustration that the Tandons must've felt too. Irrfan Khan completely owns it. Is there a better poker face around? Can anyone else carry dark humor with such impeccable timing like this man?

Konkona Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi couldn't have merged into the background any better. The film is about them and yet, they are mere backdrop. That's what their personalities seemed like – staying out of limelight; keeping to themselves. In fact, the more showy Kanhaiya played by Sumit Gulati aptly stays in memory longer.

A lot of these performances come from very well-thought out writing. The documentation available on this case is vast. To sift through that and decide on points to focus on might not have been an easy task. For example, the decision to include the investigating officer's personal life, which was completely extraneous to the case, must have been a well-considered one. One that keeps the audience rooted in reel life. Usually, such an inclusion feels like an intrusion. But, here it goes with the flow of the film and shows you a facet of the officer that you might not have known to even have thought of.

Once these decisions were made, you can see the effort put into fine-tuning them into a coherent, in its own way linear story, to arrive at the desired effect - make a case from the writer-director point of view. Sure, it is not an unbiased point of view. And that makes you unsure about the film. It bothers you that the conclusion is dissatisfactory. And you realise, that is because it is dissatisfactory, which is why the film was made in the first place.

Isn't it ironical, that in a country where the stereotype is that the affluent get away with all kinds of crime and in fact, pin it on their domestic help – this once the opposite happened and it very well could be the wrong decision?

It does leave you exasperated at the end, and disturbed. I guess you can feel decent about yourself that with all the inhumanity in the world, its depiction in a film managed to send a chill down the spine.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots. It is about a murder case, so there's the murder.
  • Language: Abusive language muted out.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None. However, mention of sex, the missionary position and pornography.
  • Concept: Presentation of a true life, double murder case.
  • General Look and Feel: Grainy, real life look.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 5
  • Story: 5
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 5
  • Dialogues: 5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 4
  • Lyrics: 4

Talvar - Movie Details

Talvar - Trailer

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Comments (16)

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Fan:

After the judiciary has gone through and full and fair process, and after the judiciary has convicted certain people, trust highly intellectual film makers to now come and mock the judiciary by making a film that claims to show the real story.

What does Mr V Bharadwaj has against Indian establishment to make anti-establishment films for the heck of making them? Or does he believe that it is the definition of intelligentsia to constantly find faults with the establishment and ignore everything else? If so then he is completely mistaken about the definition of intelligentsia.

Practical:

Hello top commenter
Do you know judiciary is for sale in india!
All top involved in scams are out of jail

ANuP:

think Vishal Bhardhwaj could have a great carrier as story and screenplay writer.
As he is a visionary , but the problem has always been that he finds it difficult to compromise with the commercial needs of Bollywood audience. That's why not always (because i also like to see VB directing movies) but sometimes (mostly in case of real stories) its good to give VB only the writing department and give the director's chair to someone else who can keep a balance between critical and commercial needs of the movies. Meghna Gulzar in this case has done a great job in that department.
Almost no complaints with the film.
Just one , i wanted the movie to be more lengthy as some investigations has been shown in a fast forward manner. I was so gripped that i wouldn't have minded more 30-45 mins of the movie.
This for me could be the best option to represent India in OSCARS next year as long as Bollywood movies released till now. Then again its my personal views.

Anup:

Such a great experience

Anuj:

Its a good movie when watched as a work of fiction. But its hard to separate fiction from reality in such cases. As for Irfan, the brilliant actor needs to start showing some variety in his script selection than choosing films which force him to act poker faced over and over again. No wonder he was brilliant and a pleasant surprise in PIKU as opposed to films like Talvar and the upcoming Jazbaa where he seems to continue in the same vein. Konkana Sen is a bland and expressionless actress and there is little I can expect from her even if I put my gold class intelligensia cap on. Perhaps the pseudos have a sixth sense that normal audiences do not which allows them to call Konkana and Kay Kay as fabulous actors!

Raj D:

Dear Meetu,

The main purpose of the movie was clearly to show the parents were wrongly prosecuted due to blotched up police investigation (the movie shows that very effectively). The movie was not only manipulative but intrusively playing on the psychology of audiences by misusing the power of cinematic medium. I found the movie serving the same purpose as the frenzied media – the difference was timing and intent. Clearly the purpose of the movie was questionable.

Casting was very important - what impact would it made if the role of Ashwini was played by an unknown actor – and Irfan was casted as head of second CBI team. The audience perception would have had swayed to what the second team would say. Additionally in the movie Tabu was paired with Irfan to build another by-plot of hero-heroine to lend authenticity to Irfan’s character as hero. Whatever hero says must be true- is the message audience takes back home. Very manipulative.

Last 12 minutes the movie focuses two CBI teams facing and arguing each other in a room trying to convince each other about which investigation is true. Why the Director/ Writer duo should do such a thing and get away with additionally showing at least 5-7 minutes of actual court arguments that lead to parents prosecution? Very disturbing when the pseudo – intelligent critics and reviewers applaud such a crafty and bogus manipulation. Cinematic liberty!?

There are rumors as claimed by a Director Manish Gupta who made another fictional movie ‘Rahasya’ inspired by Aarushi murder case, that the Talwars had approached him to make a movie showing them as innocent, and when the Director didn’t agree – they wanted to ban the release of the movie.

The last scene where it is shown the parents entering the jail after being found guilty by the court and the manipulative sad back-ground score playing – stating parents are innocent and this is what should linger in the minds of audiences who walk out of the theatres. Debauching!

I am disappointed and question the integrity of the duo – Director Meghna Gulzar and screenplay writer Vishal Bhardwaj. Apologies and sorry!

If I had heard them saying in their TV interviews that the movie is trying to show in favor of Talwar parents, I would had certainly rated this movie 6.5, but now...
(Rating 4.5 out of 10)

Raj:

Meetu, Unlike my full IMDB review, I didn't put my comment on use of paid-media (electronic and print) that producers and production services are using especially of leading national daily and its state subsidiaries. I could not resist but raise my protest over here - it is 5 days and there is 12 pages of paid-news coverage in TOI on Talwars. I am appalled and disturbed by this corrupt mis-use. It strengthens my observation further on the pervert intentions of the film-makers backed by someone who wants Talwars to be proved innocent.

I understand that there might not be a compelling case against the Talwars, but who is going to fight the case for the 3 friends of Hemraj - if they are innocent?

How I wish - money and easy funding - doesn't drive police, judiciary and media. How I wish - if this film duo had taken a clear cut case of a poor victim who is wrongly prosecuted and there is no one to even hear what they have to say. Just because they are poor - they don't have voice. And there are more than 300 K under-trails in India - some dying in the jail and their cases pending since 15-20 years. Very very sad, that people are running behind Talwars to give them justice with such zeal.

ANUJ:

@Raj : This is a sentimental society where the possibility of educated parents putting their own daughter to rest is something that nobody wants to accept despite damning evidence. Irrespective of the evidence & the court's verdict, the sympathy factor would always be in favor of the Talwars because somehow, in our society we just cannot contemplate a scenario of parents murdering their own child. Viewership hungry prestitutes and pseudo-intellectual publicity hungry film-makers like Vishal Bharadwaj are quick to prey on this sentiment and add fuel to the fire. Last year Vishal made a mockery of the Indian army and its brave jawans by making a false, intolerable and completely anti national movie like Haider. This time around he's decided to mock the judiciary and its esteemed judges.

Fan:

@Anuj, @Raj: VB is falling fast in my esteem as a responsible film maker. Two back to back films that are highly irresponsible film making at its best.

Problem is that there are millions of educated so called intelligentsia who encourage such irresponsible film making, thereby increasing the probability that VB will produce another such irresponsible film in the near future.

Samir:

Very apt review. I'm a little taken aback by all the hate this movie is generating. Perhaps reading the book Aarushi will help people understand the case better.

Anuj:

@Fan : I don't have as much of an issue with the movie (which I think is a good watch if watched as a work of fiction) but I do have issues with film-makers taking real life incidents and tweaking them over to suit their film. Its even worse when talented film-makers like Kabit Khan (Phantom), Rajkumar Gupta (NOKJ) and VB (Talvar) do so.

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3
Story: 4
Lead Actors: 5
Character Artists: 4

Dialogues: 3
Screenplay: 4
Music Director: 2
Lyrics: 2

ANUJ:

I did get the chance to watch it this weekend and imo its an up and down movie. While I do agree with Raj that the movie is one sided, but imo that one sided-ness creeps in only during the last 20 minutes of the film during the charge and counter charges being levied by the 2 CBI teams on one another. The film-makers have actually done well not to get swayed away for a major part of the duration. That being said, this movie is not free of loopholes. The last 5 minutes is hushed up and the real reason and evidence on the basis of which the Talwars were convicted by the court has not been dwelled on at all. Irfan Khan despite being repetitive is top notch nevertheless.

Raj:

Dear Meetu, I could not resist but write back again here. Ten days, 17 pages of paid-news coverage in Times of India supplements City Edition, plus on-going regular news-clips in the main paper. Yesterday, (11 Oct 10 pm) heard the paid-debate on Times Now too (Good Arnab was neutral) but unlike Meghna's earlier rant about she is neutral, she was vehemently fighting for Talwars. What a let down from the time she came to promote the movie with Vishal Bhardwaj on NDTV saying - She has just presented facts. As I had not followed the case at all, came to know that there are so many facts, the film has intentionally not presented to the audience.

Just imagine, if the film is able to free Talwars, and prosecute the poor three friends of Hemraj, (yet according to the night security - no one came or went in the society or the house that night), Will Vishal Bhardwaj and Meghna Gulzar make a movie showing that they are innocent? NO, because they are poor.

I reiterate how good it would be if they had made a real life movie on an innocent poor rural person who is wrongly prosecuted and is in jail from last 15-20 years. There are more than 10% of such cases from the total of 3 lakh under trails in Indian jail.

I am no expert, but just using my common sense in an objective way to understand the case and the movie and its motive.

I feel very very let down by Vishal Bhardwaj's script, screenplay and Meghna Gulzar.

I won't be a surprise if Meghna Gulzar runs away with all critics awards - sadly this is the society we are living in today!

Move on.... Move on...!

meeta:

@Raj D Undoubtedly the film is biased, so I don't think there was any attempt at giving both sides of the story.

Fan:

Watched the film. Even as a pure work of fiction it is nothing great and certainly far away than "buy the DVD already ". If you want to spend money to buy a dvd on a good potboiler then buy a dvd of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. Or a dvd of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. And if you want to spend the money on an Indian production then buy a dvd of Jewel Thief.

Performance wise all are as expected Irrfan Konkona Tabu. Other than stay with a serious look they are not expected to show any of their acting prowess.

And what was that over stretched LOL moment on missionary position supposed to mean?

Okay watch if you happen to be stuck with it. But don't plan time to watch it or don't regret if you didn't get the opportunity to watch it. You will not have missed anything important in life.

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