Monday, October 5, 2015

Talvar Movie Review

The 2008 Noida double murder case was like life imitating art – a thriller. The recently published book 'Aarushi' by Avirook Sen – an investigative report on the same case – is being sold on the same point that "it reads like a thriller". To thrill (or to entertain you in any form) was definitely not the purpose of the book neither Sen's intention. He has muckraked different versions of "truths" that had gone into misleading this case. To find entertainment out of a murder case – the kind of entertainment that comes with voyeurism – was already a job media was doing while covering the case then. The collective voyeurism of our nation (media and police included... well, they are humans too) to peep into the bedrooms of other people was precisely what made this case took wrong turns. But, thanks to media, again, we had the attention of the middle-class to this case. Now that we have it, let's use it? 


Investigative journalists have been vocal about the miscarriage of justice being done to the Talwars since the trials. With Sen's bestselling book and a Hindi film now, the case is virtually reopened in public domain for debate and discussion... at least among the few who read, or those who watch films not only for entertainment or like to walk in theaters a little informed. I walked in perhaps too informed, having read Sen's book. So till the initial proceedings of the case in the film, I couldn't throw away the checklist from my mind. But given the nature of the case, you are never too informed... as no one can still be sure who committed the crime. Not that it's a huge mystery that could never be solved, but the evidences that could have led us to solve it were turned into a joke. 

So, the case and its proceedings already sound like a thriller, a suspenseful drama, and a black-comedy. Now how do you re-translate this real-life event that imitates art so closely back into an art form? Bhardwaj, the writer, knows it. In a scene, when an investigating officer's assistant forms an intelligent point about the blood stains on a staircase, his senior appreciates with an uncanny remark that delineates the art-versus-life aspect in this film, "Sirf background-score ki kami hain. You're real Sherlock." And there are many such tradeoffs. "Tumne 'Ijaazat' film dekhi hai?" asks Ashvin Kumar (wonderful, as usual, Irrfan) to his wife (Tabu in a short role) when she returns a box of his saamaan (belongings) to him. They are going through divorce just like the couple in that 1987 Gulzar film.

I was initially uncomfortable about the film's title, given that the actual family name was Talwar. Bhardwaj's keen observation and wit about the Lady Justice holding a sword in another hand with weighing scales in one helps here (Yes, Google it, she does hold a sword. Come on, how many of you remembered this? I almost convinced my friend sitting next to me that there's a book but no sword). It's a thoughtful wordplay. Another such wordplay on missionary position is a hoot.

For Bhardwaj to dictate form over content, he need not assume the role of a director. His writing is as masterful. A new officer-in-charge (a third one on it) who is mostly responsible for everything wrong that happened with the case in its later stages is introduced holding a colorful plastic gun in his hand, playing with his kid who is actually holding a toy-gun that looks more real. "Baccha nahi raakshas hain", he says about his own kid. It's a terrific punchline, given that the officer himself handled the case childishly that turned into being a monstrous evil. In a throwaway shot, the kid is carelessly sitting on the officer's chair, playing around. It's as dark as the Yorick skull kept on a child's head in Haider. 

Bhardwaj's pen is indeed mightier than the sword. However, how I wish Lady Justice's sword was mightiest.

1 comment:

Archana Kapoor said...

Interesting review... thanks for sharing.. Hope to catch the movie...
Cheers, Archana - www.drishti.co