Bollywood falters when it comes to executing whodunits, but "Talvar" is a miracle.
Based on the 2008 double murder case from Noida, this Meghna Gulzar directorial engages right from the word go.
The film opens with a CDI – Criminal Department of Investigation – event.
After quickly introducing top-notch officer Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan) and his assistant Vedant Mishra (Sohum Shah), the scene shifts to the crime scene where Shruti Tandon (Ayesha Parveen), daughter of Dr. Ramesh (Neeraj Kabi) and Nutan Tandon (Konkona Sen Sharma) lies cold and blood-smeared.
A few phone calls and questions later, domestic help Khempal's body is retrieved from the terrace.
After the UP Police botches up the investigation by compromising evidence and later making sweeping accusations against the parents, the case is forwarded to the CDI.
Ashwin, handling the Tandon case, begins burrowing only to find that police had been excessively careless in their digging of the truth. Further, he also finds out the team never called Forensics.
His own enquiry opened a few more doors highlighting the domestic help's friends as the new suspects. Just when he was almost there in convicting them of murder changes, Ashwin's taken off the case.
The officer succeeding him, then presents a different picture, which puts the doctor couple in the crosshairs.
What's best about this murder mystery thriller is the makers do not force feed a theory. Instead, the audience is offered three viewpoints and not a one-size-fits-all conclusion.
Vishal Bhardwaj's crispy screenplay is what keeps the story together. He intelligently peppers the narrative with some situational humour, which makes it more engaging.
The climax, which has the two CDI teams debating over which theory they should with to the court, is classic.
The acting department shines through, all along.
Bollywood should forever be grateful that Irrfan chose acting as his profession. His character is going through a marital separation and he's trying to not let this dampen his ability to work as a thorough professional and yet there's a part of him, which is deeply affected. Irrfan magically essays his role and makes it believable.
Neeraj and Konkona are gifted, and both do justice to the screen time they get.
The way media sensationalises murder cases, the way police do shoddy work, and how the nation's judiciary system functions - Meghna has put out a well-balanced film in which there's a little of everything.
In a nutshell, "Talvar" is one of the really well-made films of recent times.