Based on the 2008 Noida double murder case, Talvar is an intense crime-drama that perfectly encapsulates the functioning of the system, police procedural & investigation process that’s centred on Ashwin Kumar played by Irrfan, CDI’s most trusted sleuth entrusted to unravel the mystery behind India’s most baffling death case.
Though the film solemnly concentrates on the mysterious murder case, the perspective (Rashomon effect) & cognitive window of the film are presented through the eyes of its central character, Joint Director of CDI Ashwin Kumar, unequivocally allowing the audience to trail after Irrfan. There is more substance to the story than the case itself – the speculation of national media, the contempt of the public, the sloppy police work, the deplorable functioning of the system, innumerable exhibits, dualities of characters, the invariable perspectives of the incident, and many more. Yet the makers soar above all the complications by hypnotising the audiences to only perceive Ashwin Kumar is a nifty way to connect with the Titular and exemplary blend of descriptive and story-telling prowess. To begin with, the film opens with Ashwin Kumar being himself – aloof – at a department party hosted by his superiors. By nature, Ashwin Kumar is a nonchalant, virtual recluse, sarcastic with a marital life that is on the cusp of divorce. By profession, he’s an exceptional officer wielding esoteric knowledge on mysterious cases & an infamous personality, who has a knack & reputation for seeing high-profile cases to an end.
There’s a certain traction in the film besides the riveting drama that captures the attention of its audience. To be more precise, we develop a distinct anticipation to witness Irrfan plunging into the abyss of the story to guide us forward. By planting many layers in the first act itself, the film subconsciously creates an urge for Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan) to come and peel the layers so we can club many perceptions into a unified one – Irrfan’s perception. The urge to witness your hero in a film you are wilfully invested in is what makes Talvar my favourite Irrfan film. Also, the film leaves space for many interpretations but leaves no ambiguity in showing the evidence procured by Ashwin Kumar.
For me, Talvar offers everything I crave to see from Irrfan. The amusing nonchalance, his pensive yet bewildering eyes, a stirring conflict, his sporadic dialogue delivery, his poised apparition as an investigative officer, the trepidation in his walk and his indignant soul. Talvar is a very compelling film, with Irrfan’s dwindling tenderness and eroding patience navigating us towards the showdown. At times, I have lost myself in the story, left pondering “how does this man pull off such complicated characters with such mastery & elegance?”. His posed nature, the beckoning of information and his relationship with his protégé depict the magnanimity & disparity between the character on paper & the portrayal we see on-screen. Irrfan picked up on the pulse of the character & weaved his own skin around it without compromising the crux of the story. 30 minutes into the film, I felt a distinct tint of the Rashomon effect being implemented on the screenplay, but soon it was undermined by the advent of Irrfan as Ashwin Kumar, giving me a sudden rush of adrenaline. Clearly a manifestation of how an actor with such great acting prowess can substitute for the techniques of screenplay making Talvar an embellishment of Irrfan’s career.
Talvar juggles between many interpretations, with Irrfan serving as a cardinal for one. His intermittent inclusion in the story, in retrospect makes a lot of sense; it’s not Irrfan’s presence but his absence in the film that creates more of an impact on us as. As viewers, we feel void that’s left unplumbed, pleading for Irrfan’s presence on the screen to guide us in the right direction. Irrfan’s character builds trust with the audience, & ushers us in the right direction without altering our perception by using the unfolding screenplay as empirical evidence. That’s how Irrfan’s inimitable performance seeps into our heads. ‘Infesting us with his presence even when he’s absent on the screen,’ is sort of the highest culmination an actor can ever achieve – An acting Goliath for a reason.
Ashwin Kumar, played by Irrfan, is an alchemy of myriad emotions. He treads lightly, looks away while eating food, zones out, and is adept at taking power nap – on the whole, he is a character dotted with perfection & precision. As an integral part of the story, Irrfan subconsciously interacts with his audience to cement the trust we lay in his character.
The meticulous facial expressions, the assiduous agility with his trademark dialogue delivery coherently exalts the existence of Irrfan. As an actor, Irrfan triumphs in stipulating the importance of imparting the mental state of a character on the screen. Every intricate detail portrayed by Irrfan gives away the fragile nature of his character, making him eternal as an actor. The final act i.e. the roundtable contention between actors is an exhibit of how great actors can make a film even greater. As a film lover & admirer, the interminable wrangle in the climax between the dreamy ensemble consisting of Irrfan, Sohum Shah, Atul Kumar, Prakash Belawadi and Shishir Sharma, is an absolute phenomenon of virtuosity. The roundtable sequence is a quintessential episode of actors complementing other actors without coming out of their characters. The joy of setting every character on the same platform but in different directions and letting them justify their side is what makes me fall in love with this film again and again.
Talvar is a film that finely captured & encapsulated Irrfan’s soaring talent for us to cherish forever. Great performances make an actor immortal. Irrfan’s performance in Talvar is one such performance, making him live in their hearts forever.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.