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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

I feel the circle is now complete: ‘Talvar’ director on the Aarushi verdict

A film such as Talvar needed to serve a higher purpose. Till that happened, although it got acclaim, the film had achieved nothing in the real world

analysis Updated: Oct 13, 2017 11:52 IST
Meghna Gulzar
Meghna Gulzar
Hindustan Times
Director Meghna Gulzar moved away from the tender love stories that defined her body of work to make Talvar (2015), a grittier film drawn from a real life double murder
Director Meghna Gulzar moved away from the tender love stories that defined her body of work to make Talvar (2015), a grittier film drawn from a real life double murder

The immediate emotion that engulfed me when I first heard that Rajesh and Nupur Talwar had been acquitted by the Allahabad High Court was of immense relief. Since then newspapers and TV reporters have been calling me incessantly. I haven’t had time to analyse the judgment on my own, but for now the Talwars will walk free.

The second emotion that I am now experiencing is that of completion: as if a circle has now got complete. When Talvar released in 2015 and received both critical acclaim and decent commercial success, I still felt that something was missing. Why my producers asked me why I wasn’t happy, I told them that the success of the film was not yet complete for me. I said a film such as Talvar needs to serve a higher purpose. Till that happened, it had achieved nothing in the real world. The case wasn’t fast-tracked. There was a little activism on social media, it created a small buzz in film circles and then there was nothing else.

As we went along researching the case during the making of Talvar, the story organically got a life of its own. Vishal [Bharadwaj, one the producers of the film] knew the original CBI investigator and that gave us an insider’s perspective. As we dug deeper, we discovered new layers to it. But our task wasn’t made easier by the uneven reporting and the manner in which the police went about things. For instance, when during the narco-analysis, even when both the domestic help ended up mentioning the same song which was playing on a Nepali channel and the channel owner wanted to testify, she was not allowed to do so.

Talvar was a film off the beaten track for me. When I first moved away from the kind of films that I had done so far, people were apprehensive about whether a filmmaker known for her poetic sensibilities would be able to do justice to a grittier subject drawn from real life. What drew me to make Talvar was the story. I wanted to tell the story about a case which had a number of layers: It was based on one incident which had seen three investigations. It had two victims, two sets of theories about what the murder weapon was and still nobody was any closer to knowing what actually transpired. The cloudiness surrounding the case wasn’t helped by the botched up style of the investigations. My objective wasn’t to turn into an investigator myself – I just wanted to collate all the data and tell the story in a fair manner.

Today, I am being asked after the judgement whether I am feeling vindicated. Far from it. It cannot be a vindication for me. I am just a medium. The vindication has to be for the family, the Talwars’ lawyers and everybody else who stood by them.

Meghna Gulzar is a well-known filmmaker and director of Talvar (2015)

(as told to Aasheesh Sharma)

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 18:52 IST

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