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Talwaar. A Hindi film review

It is justice of sword

Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen
Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Tabu,
Gajraj Rao, Sumit Gulati
Story: Teenager Shruti
Tandon and domestic help
Khempal are murdered -
but who did it? And while
the truth unravels, what
else gets slashed?
Movie Review: Straight
away, Talvar is super-
sharp, a sword swipe at
Bollywood's song-and-
dance, mehendi-fuelled
escapism. Inspired by
2008's Aarushi Talwar
double murder case, for
which Aarushi's parents
are serving a life-term,
Talvar takes reality head
on - and turns it on its
In neatly separated
segments, Talvar presents
contrasting views on who
killed Shruti Tandon and
Khempal. Was it Shruti's
outraged parents?
Khempal's outrageous
friends? Or did botched
investigations butcher
Shruti and Khempal, even
after they were slain?
Talvar gets your mind
ticking along the murders'
mysteries while it moves
your heart at two lives -
and one truth - lost.
The acting is superb. Irrfan
absolutely smashes it as
Central Department of
Investigation (CDI) officer
Ashwin Kumar, whose
sharp intelligence, dark
humour and melting
tenderness towards his
wife Reema (luminous
Tabu) light up every
frame. Irrfan displays
whiplash-like control,
casually drawling to a
dim-witted cop, "Agli baar
koi khoon bhara haath
chor jaye, toh dhyan
dijiyega..." As bumbling
Inspector Dhaniram,
whose laziness extends to
overlooking a rotting
corpse, Gajraj Rao presents
a perfect paan-chewing
foil, dismissing a blood-
stained sheet with,
"Tumhari chadar hai,
locker mein daal do,
hamein kya?"
While the screen crackles
between Irrfan and Gajraj,
Konkona and Neeraj play
the Tandons as a muted
pair - whose acting
changes subtly as
murderers, then victims.
Neeraj's eyes speak while
with flashing malevolence,
Konkona hisses to her
husband, "Chalo, rona
shuru karna hai!" The
acting's further enlivened
by creepy Kanhaiya (Sumit
Gulati), whose slyness
adds shades of grey to this
hair-raising tale.
With layers of truth and
lies, TV reporters shrieking,
"Yahi hai woh ghar!", hazy
narco-tests and back-
stabbing office politics,
Talvar's frames are
relentless, edgy portraits.
Pankaj Kumar captures
dusty suburbia and the
tension of a tight little flat,
intercut with heart-
rending shots - the cheery
sparklers of a Delhi baraat
- that emphasise the
grimness of the Tandons'
lives. Taut editing (Sreekar
Prasad) is excellent while
Vishal Bhardwaj's writing
haunts, cluttered with
facts, buzzing with
theories - yet, strangely
Talvar's compared to
Rashomon but while that
wandered through forests
of fantasy, Talvar boldly
tackles reality. It offers
totally different takes on
two murders. But it is
unambiguous about a
third - fairness, slashed to
pieces by incompetence
and callous crassness.
In wiping away stains
from the sword of justice,
Talvar shines.

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