Talvar (Guilty) 2015


Talvar (Guilty) opened last September at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). So what is it about?

Per the Storyline at IMDB:

The story revolves around the mysterious murder cases of a 14-year girl, Shruti Tandon and the domestic help, Khempal who worked at her place. The film is based on the real life Noida Double Murder Case of 2008, where the parents were said to be the prime suspects of the murders. The film showcases three perspectives to the case which emerge as the investigation moves forward.

Which squarely places this film into the classification of being Rashomon-like.

The film stars Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Jurassic World, Slumdog Millionaire) as a senior homicide inspector working for India’s CDI (a made up acronym for India’s CBI – the equivalent of our own FBI).

When the first responding police were summoned, the cops on the scene paid no attention to forensics, or at minimum keeping the crime scene sealed.

The lead cop called it an open and shut case. The butler did it, he stated with assurance. Of course there was no butler. Instead there was the houseboy, and it came to the cops attention that he had a thing, or what we might call a strong desire for the Tandon daughter, Shruti.

So this theory was hoisted up the flagpole and fluttered in the wind. A search (what we call here in the USA an APB) was set in motion. When Khempal was not found, it was stated that he had absconded and must be the killer. That is until Khempal himself was found dead, and decomposing, on the roof of the very apartment building where the Tandons lived.

So it wasn’t as open and shut as was first announced. Theories began to show up in the media, in the press, and in the police HQ. It was an honor killing (the parents being the killer of their own daughter because of the shame she brought on them by ‘taking up’ with Khempal.

Let’s skip ahead for a moment. Then it was called a revenge killing. Then a conspiracy. Eventually as in much later the terms incompetent as well infighting in the hierarchy of the police would come into play

It is about this time, that a smart-as-a-whip, top-of the-class, ace detective named Ashwin Kumar is called in from the CDI.

He’s not the least bit timid about calling a spade a spade, or in this case a fool a fool. Irrfan Khan just kills as this top cop. But what does it get him?

That’s about as far as I can go to brief you as to what this film is about, or why you should see it. I did not see it theatrically, but I did buy the DVD.

Director Gulzar and screenwriter Bhardwaj try to present an undistorted view of the case. Dispassionate as it were. But some have said the Gulzar is more sympathetic to the parents of the murdered girl than she ought to be.

What makes the film work is the unfiltered and clearly disparaging view that is offered about the problems with the police, the media, and how the entire enforcement and judicial process works. The corridors of power do not come off looking all that great.

I’ll recommend the film and give it a three-point seven five rating on the one to five scale. Below is a trailer without English subtitles, but you will get an excellent sense of what the film is trying to do, even without understanding the words.

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