Meghna Gulzar's third full-length feature, Talvar or Guilty, will be screened at the Toronto Film Festival -- which will run from September 10 to 20. Part of Special Presentations, Talvar will be play along with 35 other movies in this section.
Meghna, the only daughter of renowned lyricist Gulzar and once-upon-a-time star, Rakhee, has dared to walk into a crime story that even seasoned helmers like Milan Luthria (known for helming the Silk Smitha biopic, The Dirty Picture with Vidya Balan, and Once Upon A Time In Mumbai with Ajay Devgn and Emran Haashmi) feared to take on.
Talvar is based on the recent -- and, as some perceive, "yet to be solved" -- murder mystery of 14-year-old Aarushi, the only child of the dentist couple, Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar. She was not the only one to have died that night, when the couple slept in an adjoining room, oblivious of the bloody drama that was being enacted. The 45-year-old servant of the house, Hemraj Banjade, was also found dead on the rooftop, his body highly decomposed when it was found by a bumbling police force that had been careless in examining the scene of the crime.
After many twists and turns, the father and mother of the teenager were found guilty and sentenced to a life in prison. They have now appealed against the verdict.
Admittedly, the Aarushi murder has been one of the most vexing cases in India's crime history. The moot point is, how is Meghna going to lead her film version. Not an easy task, for the legal case, for all one knows, may not have seen the end of the day.
The movie has an impressive cast, Irrfan Khan, Konkana Sen Sharma and Tabu. What more can one ask. Although last year, Irrfan Khan told this writer at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival that he was playing a Central Bureau of Investigation officer in Talvar, the latest credits describe him as "Khooni Nauker" or Murderer Servant.
Whatever it be, Khan is an actor par excellence who has carefully guided his career into a multitude of directions. We have seen him as a steeple chase runner-turned-dacoit in Paan Singh Tomar, as an office clerk in The Lunchbox fighting love and romance, as a taxi operator in Piku, as the millionaire owner of an entertainment park in Jurassic World, as a brilliant intelligence officer in A Mighty Heart, as villainous Maqbool in Maqbool and as as barber in Billu. Variety thy name is Irrfan, admittedly the best of the Khans who would leave the rest miles behind in the race to be called an actor.
Sen Sharma has also shown a fair degree of her mettle on the screen: some of her performances in movies like Traffic Signal, Page 3, Omkara and 15 Park Avenue have been raved about. However, as the Tamil Brahmin woman in Mr and Mrs Iyer, stranded in a bus during communal riots, she was marvellous, conveying angst and cunning with panache.
Tabu dons the khaki in Talvar, a re-enactment of a part she did in Drishyam. Sadly, Bollywood's obsession with glamour had her all jazzed up in Drishyam, and hopefully Meghna would steer clear of this pothole. But Tabu could be riveting as we saw in Haider, in Maachis, in Chandni Bar.
With such an impressive star list, Meghna could not have asked for more, and going by the pulse in the festival circuit, there appears to be a demand for Talvar with the Cairo International Film Festival in November evincing an interest in it. Will Talvar sail along the Nile?