Meghna Gulzar, whose film 'Talvar', based on the 2008 murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her family's domestic servant Hemraj, premiered under the title of "Guilty" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to an overwhelming response, says if the movie sparks a debate, it'll have served its purpose.
Meghna, actor Irrfan Khan and producer-writer Vishal Bhardwaj were present in the packed house at Ryerson University auditorium to interact with the audience.
Directing her third full-length feature film, Meghna, the daughter of legendary writer Gulzar and veteran actress Raakhee, has done a fine job of laying bare various sub-plots of this crime story which has riveted India since 2008 when Aarushi and Hemraj were found murdered in their Noida home.
The trial in the case led to a life sentence for Aarushi's dentist parents - Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar.
With the Talwar couple appealing against their sentence, Meghna has tried to present unbiased accounts of two police investigations in the case and narrate various accounts of what happened on that night.
Irrfan, as the lead investigator, is seen ripping apart the initial police investigation of the case. In fact, he goes to extent of using force (a baton) against witnesses and police inspector Dhaniram (played by Gajraj Rao) for not securing the crime scene immediately after the killings and doind a sloppy job of gathering evidence.
"If the film can start a debate to have a relook at the case, I think it would have served it purpose," said Meghna, answering questions from the audience after the screening of the film.
Asked why she chose the title "Talvar" (for the film), Meghna said it was with reference to the delivery of justice. "Talvar alludes to the sword that is held in the hand of the lady of justice."
Though there is very little in the film is not already there in the public domain, Meghna said the script included all the information that emerged from all the accounts and investigations of this case.
Considering the sensitivities around the case, she said, "I am a mother and a daughter...it (the film) put me in a tricky situation."
Irrfan said the film aims at removing various perceptions about the case, coloured by different sources. "When you are doing a real thing, you are doubly cautious...you tread with caution," the actor said.
He said he didn't know in detail about the Aarushi case before the film. But what he heard from different sources during the film was "a revelation to me", the actor said.
Bhardwaj said the film is very dear to his heart as "it has taken close two years of our life".
He said they have not meddled with the overall story of the Aarushi case but taken some liberties with the script.