Meghna Gulzar: Not riding on scandal with 'Talvar'

'Talvar', which is inspired by the sensational Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj murder case in 2008, is not an attempt to cash in on the scandal, says director Meghna Gulzar.

Meghna Gulzar
Meghna Gulzar

She says the movie is not a whodunit account of the incident but explores the various theories in the case, where 14-year-old Aarushi's parents -- Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar -- have been convicted.

"We are not riding on a scandal with 'Talvar'. That's not our intent... Despite there being a verdict, there is a sense of unfinished business, a lack of closure in this case. This is why it still haunts. This is a story that must be told," Meghna, 41, told PTI in an interview.

There is already a movie, "Rahasya", which is said to be loosely inspired by the case, then came Avirook Sen's book and now "Talvar", slated to release in India on October 2 after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Meghna relied on the Vishal Bhardwaj-penned script and her research while working on the movie. Bhardwaj is also the co-producer with Junglee Pictures.

"We never tried to solve the crime. The investigation is over and done with. Vishalji and I have tried to explore various theories. We have tried to be honest to each perspective. It is not in our hand to give a clear answer nor is it our point of view.

"The strange part about this case is that every investigative team had a different story and they had complete conviction in their theories. That's what makes it even more unfathomable."

The director has not faced any resistance from the people involved in the case so far but has been sensitive in approaching the story.

"Being objective was the hardest thing while making this movie. Since we were showing all sides, we needed to be fair to all of them. It is not a biopic. It is based on a real incident and people are still alive. A certain sensitivity was needed in our approach whether it is directing, writing, camera or costume.

"Sometimes it did not look like it was a screenplay because the real-life trajectory has been so dramatic. I did not want the reality of it to colour my emotion."

Aarushi's murder continues to generate a lot of interest even today and recently parallels were drawn with the Sheena Bora murder case. When asked about it, Meghna says that the story will continue to fascinate because it questions the very fabric of family.

"There was so much interest in the story because it was probably the first time that the institution of family was questioned. The same thing has been echoed in Sheena Bora's case.

"When the theory about father's involvement came, there was a spike in the interest about Aarushi case. Later, there came another theory that presented the possibility about compounder's involvement in the murder but that was not as riveting. People don't even remember that angle."

Meghna is working with Bhardwaj for the first time on a movie though the director and her father Gulzar are frequent collaborators.

Known for her films "Filhaal", "Just Married" and "Poornmasi", the director admits it was a complete detour for her to tackle a movie on the double murders.

"It is a complete detour for me. It is about murder, crime, blood, something that I have never dealt with. But what is the point of making a film on something that is sorted. I always had this hunger to explore what is temporary and what is relevant in society."

Meghna says Irrfan, who has made underplaying an art form, was always the first choice so were Konkana Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi as parents.

The characters names have been changed in the movie and though the title, "Talvar", echoes the surname, she says it is actually inspired by the sword in lady justice's hand.

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