Review: Bollywood had hit rock bottom in the last few weeks with big flicks like Katti Batti, Hero, Welcome Back bringing disgrace to an industry already accused of portraying banal cliches film after film. Finally, Vishal Bharadwaj and Meghna Gulzar have come to its rescue with Talvar, a realistic and inherently dramatic account of the Aarushi Talvar double murder case in 2008 which shook the roots of the middle class. Meticulously researched and written by Vishal Bharadwaj, Talvar points fingers at many but never affirmatively concludes how the murder took place. It could have easily taken the garb of a crowd-pleaser by offering more convenient solutions but instead digs deep into the actual facts and study of the complex emotions everyone attached to the case goes through. All this, coupled with a haunting background score (Again, by Vishal Bharadwaj), crackling dialogue (especially in the final act) and superlative performances make for an engaging piece of cinema which otherwise could have been quite a tedious affair. It is exciting to see how Irrfan unravels the mystery thread by thread to finally become convinced that the parents are innocent and it is equally disturbing to see how the people involved in a dirty political nexus act steely to prove otherwise. To be frank, the film feels longer than its two-hour running time and also gets repetitive on certain occasions, but these are just minute hiccups in a film which is gripping for most part.
However, it is the pitch-perfect casting which breathes life into this dark film. From being shocked at the demise of their daughter to being helpless when accused of killing her, Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sen Sharma are brilliant. All the sidekicks, including the cop who rushes to the conclude it is a case of honour killing, the unrelenting helper in Kabi's clinic and many others in smaller roles strike all the right notes and succeed in keeping the proceedings as natural as possible. But the star of Talvar, undoubtedly, is Irrfan Khan. Sporting the role of an investigating officer who's hooked to the 'snakes" game on his phone even as the father breaks down during an interrogation session, Irrfan steals every scene he is in to deliver a performance that is nothing short of terrific.
I'm going with 3.5/5 for Talvar. Unlike the absurdly melodramatic "No one killed Jessica", this one is a brave, uncompromised film that is worthy of your time.