Talvar (film)

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Talvar
TalvarFilmPoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Meghna Gulzar
Produced by Vineet Jain
Vishal Bhardwaj
Written by Vishal Bhardwaj
Based on Noida double murder case
Starring Irrfan Khan
Konkona Sen Sharma
Neeraj Kabi
Music by Vishal Bhardwaj
Cinematography Pankaj Kumar
Edited by A. Sreekar Prasad
Production
companies
VB Pictures
Distributed by Junglee Pictures
Release date
  • 14 September 2015 (2015-09-14) (TIFF)
  • 2 October 2015 (2015-10-02) (India)
Running time
133 minutes[1]
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 15–17 crore[2]
Box office est. 30.17 crore[3]

Talvar (English: Sword), released internationally as Guilty, is a 2015 Indian Hindi-language drama film directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by Vishal Bhardwaj. Jointly produced by Bhardwaj and Vineet Jain, the film is based on the 2008 Noida double murder case in which a teenage girl and her family servant were found murdered. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi in the lead roles, the film follows the investigation of a double murder case from three different perspectives where the parents are either guilty or innocent of the murder charges.

The idea of the film was conceived by Bhardwaj after he met some of the police officials who were investigating the case. Later, he met Meghna and expressed his desire to produce a film with her. Both of them then came up with the idea of making a film on the real life case. They researched the case for two years and found several contradictions with each view having their own conviction". Bhardwaj wrote the script with the Rashomon effect. Pankaj Kumar served as the director of photography, while A. Sreekar Prasad edited the film.

Talvar premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in the special presentation section and was also screened at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival. It released theatrically in India on 2 October, 2015 to mostly positive critical reception. It proved to be a box-office success by grossing a total of 30.17 crore (US$4.2 million). At the 63rd National Film Awards, Bhardwaj won the Best Adapted Screenplay Award and at the 61st Filmfare Awards, the Award for Best Editing for Prasad.

Plot[edit]

On the night of 15–16 March 2008, Shruti Tandon, a 14-year girl is found dead at her home in Sameer Vihar of Noida, by her parents Ramesh and Nutan. The local policeforce, led by Inspector Dhaniram are incompetent and do not know the basics of criminal investigation. Initially, they seek the missing servant Khempal. However, later, his decomposed body is found on the terrace of the building in which the Tandons live. The police question Khempal's close friend and Tandons' assistant Kanhaiya who tells the police that Ramesh might have been involved in an extra-marital affair and Khempal might have been involved in a relationship with Shruti. The police start suspecting the Tandons and later declare the murders as a clear case of honour killing. On 25 March, the Noida police arrest Ramesh for the two murders. The police chief organises a press conference in which he declares that Ramesh murdered Shruti and Khempal after finding them in a compromising position. This character assassination of Shruti leads to public outrage, and the case is handed over to the Joint Director Ashwin Kumar of Central Department of Investigation (CDI) and ACP Vedant.

Kumar holds contempt for the sloppy first responders who botched the initial crime-scene investigation. He believes the parents are innocent and methodically builds a case against the father's resentful assistant. His team uses narco tests, attempting to prove that the assistant and his two accomplices committed the murders. On 22 June 2008, he officially exonerates the parents and Ramesh is released from the jail. Just as Kumar is about to conclude his investigation, his senior officer retires and a new CDI chief takes over. ACP Vedant, in his greed to get a promotion, starts working against Kumar. This leads to an altercation between the two officers, resulting in Kumar's suspension. Later, CDI hands over the case to a new probe team led by Kumar's former boss Paul, who concludes that the parents committed the murders. In the final act, both the teams, with opposing hypotheses, make their cases before the CDI chief. The CDI files a closure report in Ghaziabad court, naming parents as the prime suspects, but states that the evidence is insufficient to initiate prosecution. The Tandons also file a protest plea opposing CDI's report. The judge rejects the closure report and makes the parents an accused in the case. The trial begins on 8 June 2012, and the Tandons are convicted for the murders few months later.

Cast[edit]

Themes[edit]

Talvar depicts how office politics, professional rivalries and media coverage can influence the course of justice.[4] It highlights the flaws in India's criminal justice system, and the prejudices and limitations of the people running it.[5] The film also dealt with child porn and abuse and police incompetence.[6]

The film critiques the media for salacious reportage and for encouraging the public to judge the accused even before a court verdict is pronounced.[7]

The film also explores the socio-economic divides in urban India: the affluent doctor-couple, the Uttar Pradesh policemen with their regressive mindsets and rough methods, and the migrants engaged in lowly jobs.[7]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Film-maker and composer Vishal Bhardwaj was impressed by director Meghna Gulzar after seeing the anthology film Dus Kahaniyaan (2007), where she had directed one segment and expressed his wish to produce a film with her. Meghna said that she was "beginning to wonder what to do next" and had a conversation with Bhardwaj regarding it, when they came up with the idea of making a film on the 2008 Noida double murder case.[8] Bhardwaj researched the case for nearly two years with Meghna and found "several bizarre contradictions and each view had their own conviction". After which they decided to present all the three perspectives into the story: the police investigations, the CBI probe and another investigation by different CBI team.[8][9] They did not take permission from the Talvar family for the film.[9] Meghna was fascinated by the idea to explore the "unfinished-ness" of the case.[10] In January 2015, it was announced that the Talvar family has approved the film, who were sentencing in prison.[11] Bhardwaj, who wrote and produced the film, said that he was inspired by the Rashomon effect, when the same event is given different interpretations by different individuals involved. Meghna mentioned that she tried to keep the narrative as objective as possible and let the viewer interpret on their own.[12]

The name of individuals and organisations in the film were changed in order to avoid any legal complications. Lawyer and politician Ram Jethmalani, at the screening, said that the trial shown in the film was not reflected accurately. To which Meghna responded that "[the film] is more about the investigation than about the trial. In fact, the trial is not part of the film at all. It tracks the many investigations."[12] The first draft of the screenplay was written in a year and another year for it to go on floors as it took time to convince the people involve in the investigation of the case.[13] Aarushi's aunt Vandana Talwar, who launched a campaign to prove the parents' innocence, provided some material to the film's writer Vishal Bhardwaj.[14] Some of the documents provided to Bhardwaj were first hand accounts of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar.[15] Talking about the title of the film, Meghna said that it was a reference to the delivery of justice, "Talvar alludes to the sword that is held in the hand of the lady of justice."[16] She also said that the film will serve its purpose if it starts a debate to re-look the case.[16]

Bhardwaj was propelled to write the script after an encounter with the first investigative officer of the case. He said, "there was a kind of black humour that was coming out of this tragedy. I am a great fan of Rashomon. I found the best way to write the script in it".[17] Bhardwaj was troubled with the face that while everyone talks about the death of Aarushi, people don’t really think much about her parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talvar.[17] Meghna and Bhardwaj started researching on the case in middle 2012, while the trial was going one.[18] Bhardwaj said that he took "some liberties with the script" and did not meddle with the story.[16] Talking about the purpose of the film, Meghna said that several people "knew something about the case, but they didn’t know everything about it or remembered it".[19] She mentioned that the film brings out all the different aspects of the case.[19] The research continued while the film was being shot because several things changed on the set or a scene spontaneously while shooting.[19] The film was earlier titled Nyodda and was later renamed Talvar. The title was initially registered with Pritish Nandy Communications, but was purchased by Bhardwaj. The film had initially PNC as the co-producer, but they later dropped out of it.[20] Meghna got the information from the Talwars' side of story from her meeting with Rajesh Talwar's brother and sister-in-law, Dinesh Talwar and his wife Vandana. After which she said that she "did not feel the need to meet the Talwars".[21]

Casting and filming[edit]

Actress Alisha Parvin played the role of Shruti Tandon, which was based on Arushi Talvar.[13] Konkana Sen Sharma was approached by the casting director of Talvar who told her about the part which was based on Nupur Talwar, which she liked. She said she loved the script and agreed to do the film after meeting Meghna.[22] Sharma did not research for her role as she felt the script was "well researched".[22] She found that the character was about "portraying guilt and innocence according to perceptions."[17] In November 2013, it was announced that Irrfan Khan has been cast for the film.[23] Khan did not know about the case in details before the film.[16] His character in the film was based on CBI officer Arun Kumar, whom he met for the role's preparation.[17] He was the only actor approached to play the part.[10] He agreed to do the film because he felt the story was "near and frightening" and was not sensationalised: "it is an important case and whatever you may think about the verdict, the film gives us a chance to look at our system and how different departments deal with a crisis."[17] Neeraj Kabi, who played the role of the victim Aarushi's father Rajesh Talwar in the film, said: "you are making a film about people who are alive and are suffering, you have to be extremely sensitive".[9] Tabu made a three-minute appearance in the film where she plays the wife of Khan who is an investigative officer in the film.[24]

The principal photography started a year later in June 2014 and was shot on location in Mumbai, Delhi and Noida over the course of almost a year.[10][25] Meghna called the filming a "hugely draining" experience.[10] The script was based on the material available in the public domain and Meghna called it her "most fragile film".[18] Several scenes were shot in a house identical to the one of the Talvar's which was few blocks away from the location.[26] Meghna said that the most difficult part for her was to shoot the actual murder scenes in the film as there were different weapons and different killers from people's perspective, but the "one to die was always the girl and the man which did not change".[17]

Release[edit]

Talvar premiered under the title Gulity at 2015 Toronto International Film Festival's special presentations on 14 September, 2015.[6][27] It was also screened at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.[28] The official theatrical trailer of the film was launched on 22 August 2015.[29] It was followed by the release of two posters in subsequent days that featured a Lady Justice and Khan.[30][31] The film was released theatrically in India on 2 October, 2015 on 625 screens across the country.[32][33] Paid previews were organized a day before the public release.[34] A special screening for celebrities was conducted few days after the release.[35] Talvar was the second film based on the same case to release in 2015, the other film was Rahasya.[29] The film was released on DVD format on 24 November 2015.[36]

Critical response[edit]

Joe Leydon of Variety called Vishal Bhardwaj's screenplay "solidly constructed", and praised the film's narrative flow as "satisfyingly brisk".[4] Meghna Gulzar has stated that her script is completely objective and unbiased.[37] However, Leydon states it is obvious that the filmmakers' sympathies lie with the parents.[4] J Hurtado of Twitch Film called the film a "remarkable achievement" that is in contrast with the mainstream Indian movies, praising the performances as "stellar".[38]

Rajyasree Sen of Firstpost remarked that the film has a "gritty documentary feel" to it, and praised the filmmakers for their research. According to her, Ashwin Kumar is the best-etched character in the film. She criticized Tabu's cameo appearance as unnecessary. She also remarked that the film's Rashomon-esque storytelling is designed to show the parents in sympathetic light. According to her the version that shows the parents as the culprits indicates that it would be ludicrous to doubt the parents—their actions seem "almost farcical and darkly comic". She also pointed out that the film doesn't mention how Nupur Talwar changed her testimony about where she had left Aarushi's room keys, which was one of the factors in the court verdict.[39]

Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV rated the movie 3.5/5, calling it a "gripping, genre-defying and non-exploitative cinematic examination" of the murder case. He praised Bhardwaj for his "solid screenplay" and fine performances of the actors.[7] Srijana Mitra Das of The Times of India rated the film 4.5/5, contrasting it with the typical song-and-dance movies of Bollywood. She praised Sreekar Prasad's editing and Bhardwarj's writing.[40] Bollywood Hungama rated the movie 3.5/5, calling it engaging and edgy thriller.[41] Sneha May Francis of Emirates 24/7 called Talvar "one of the most riveting movies of our times", praising Bharadwaj as a master storyteller and Irrfan Khan as a top-notch actor.[42]

Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters praised Irrfan Khan's acting and Vishal Bhardwaj's screenplay. She praised the film as well-constructed and gripping, but mentioned the filmmakers' obvious sympathy for the parents as the film's only shortcoming. According to her, the filmmakers have taken the parents' version at face value, while always questioning the other side.[5] Nandini Ramnath of Scroll.in praised the actors' performances and stated that the film seemed like a "slickly produced, tightly written and beautifully performed true crime documentary". According to her, Vishal Bhardwaj seemed to have an "unshakeable belief " that the parents were innocent, and this bias ignores Ashwin Kumar's reliance on the discredited practice of narco-analysis; Kumar's manhandling of a police officer and witness is presented as honourable and necessary rather than questionable. She called the film a "legal petition disguised as a movie", stating that the film's sole purpose was to request the authorities to reconsider the Talwars' sentencing.[43] Aseem Chhabra of rediff.com rated the movie 4/5, calling it a "very well made film" and a "remarkable ensemble piece of drama". According to him, Tabu's cameo appearance feels like a diversion, and makes the film a bit too long. Unlike many other reviewers, he stated that the filmmakers had not made any judgments about the case.[44]

Box office[edit]

During paid previews before its prior release the film collected 0.50 crore (US$70,000). The film grossed 2.50 crore (US$350,000) nett on its opening day.[45] The film collected 9.5 crore (US$1.3 million) nett in its first weekend.[46] On its fourth day the film collected 1.65 crore (US$230,000) nett.[47] On its fifth day the film collected 1.65 crore (US$230,000)nett.[48] The film collected 15.50 crore (US$2.2 million) nett in its first week.[49]

The film grossed 5.05 crore (US$700,000) in its second weekend to take its ten-day total to 22.55 crore (US$3.1 million).[50] On its second Monday the film collected 1.10 crore (US$150,000) nett.[51] The film collected 0.85 crore (US$120,000) nett on its second Tuesday.[52]

After two weeks the film collection stand at 26 crore (US$3.6 million) nett.[53]

The film grossed 2.25 crore (US$310,000) in its third weekend.[54]

The film collected 29.33 crore (US$4.1 million) nett after three weeks.[55]

Soundtrack[edit]

Talvar
Soundtrack album by Vishal Bhardwaj
Released 2015
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 15:37
Language Hindi
Label T-Series
Producer Vishal Bhardwaj
Vishal Bhardwaj chronology
Drishyam
(2015)Drishyam2015
Talvar
(2015)
Madaari
(2016)Madaari2016

The film's music was composed by Vishal Bhardwaj, while the lyrics were written by Gulzar. The album consisted of four songs with vocals provided by Arooj Aftab, Rekha Bhardwaj, Sukhwinder Singh and Arijit Singh. The album was released on 15 September, 2015 under the label of T-Series.[56] The background score was provided by Ketan Sodha.

The album generally received a positive response. Mohar Basu of The Times of India wrote: "With Gulzar saab’s work at the pen joining Vishal’s formidable sense of melody, Talvar's album a heady quality.[57] Joginder Tuteja of Bollywood Hungama felt that the film "has a situational soundtrack which has a couple of heartfelt numbers connecting one to the film’s theme." He however, praised the song "Insaaf" for its "uniqueness quotient" and the "haunting appeal".[58] Ruchi Kaushal wrote that the song "Zinda Hai" "painfully highlights the agony of the parents who have lost their daughter in a twin murder case, for which they themselves are accused."[59]

Track listing
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Insaaf"Arooj Aftab03:20
2."Patli Gali"Sukhwinder Singh03:33
3."Shaam Ke Saaye"Arijit Singh04:42
4."Zinda"Rekha Bhardwaj04:22
Total length:15:57

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
BIG Star Entertainment Awards 14 December 2015 Most Entertaining Actor in a Thriller Role - Male Irrfan Khan Nominated [60]
Most Entertaining Actor in a Thriller Role - Female Konkona Sen Sharma Nominated
Most Entertaining Thriller Film Talvar Nominated
Stardust Awards 21 December 2015 Performer of the Year (Male) Irrfan Khan Won [61]
Filmmaker of the Year Meghna Gulzar Won
Best Screenplay Vishal Bhardwaj Nominated [62]
Producers Guild Film Awards 22 December 2015 Best Editing A. Sreekar Prasad Won [63]
Best Film Talvar Nominated [64]
Best Director Meghna Gulzar Nominated
Best Screenplay Vishal Bhardwaj Nominated
Best Dialogues Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Konkona Sen Sharma Nominated
Best Actor in a Negative Role Gajraj Rao Nominated
Best Lyricist Gulzar (for the song "Zinda") Nominated
Best Playback Singer (Female) Rekha Bhardwaj (for the song "Zinda") Nominated
Star Screen Awards 6 January 2016 Best Film (Jury's Choice) Talvar Won [65]
Best Actor (Jury's Choice) – Male Irrfan Khan Won
Filmfare Awards 15 January 2016 Best Editing A. Sreekar Prasad Won [66]
Best Sound Design Shajith Koyeri Won
Best Film Vishal Bhardwaj, Vineet Jain Nominated [67]
Best Director Meghna Gulzar Nominated
Best Lyricist Gulzar (for the song "Zinda") Nominated
Films of India Online Awards 14 February 2016 Best Sound Design Shajith Koyeri Won [68]
Best Film Talvar Nominated
Best Director Meghna Gulzar Nominated
Best Actor Irrfan Khan Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Konkona Sen Sharma Nominated
Best Lyricist Gulzar (for the song "Zinda") Nominated
Best Screenplay Vishal Bhardwaj Nominated
Best Dialogues Nominated
Best Editing A. Sreekar Prasad Nominated
Zee Cine Awards 20 February 2016 Best Director Meghna Gulzar Nominated [69]
Best Supporting Actor Gajraj Rao Nominated
Best Actor in a Negative Role Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Konkona Sen Sharma Nominated
Best Cinematography Pankaj Kumar Nominated
Asian Film Awards 17 March 2016 Best Screenwriter Vishal Bhardwaj Nominated [70]
Times of India Film Awards 18 March 2016 Best Lyricist Gulzar (for the song "Zinda") Nominated [71]
Global Indian Music Academy Awards 6 April 2016 Best Lyricist Gulzar (for the song "Zinda") Nominated [72]
National Film Awards 3 May 2016 Best Screenplay Vishal Bhardwaj Won [73]
Best Audiography Sanjay Kurian Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards 26 June 2016 Best Editing A. Sreekar Prasad Won [74]
Best Film Talvar Nominated [75]
Best Director Meghna Gulzar Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Konkona Sen Sharma Nominated
Best Actor in a Negative Role Gajraj Rao Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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