Talvar (lit. ‘Sword’), released internationally as Guilty, is a 2015 Indian Hindi-language thriller drama film directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by Vishal Bhardwaj. Produced by Bhardwaj and Vineet Jain, the film is based on the 2008 Noida double murder case involving a teenage girl and her family’s servant. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi, the film follows the investigation of a case from three different perspectives in which her parents are either guilty or innocent of the murder charges by the police investigation, the first Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and an investigation by a different CBI team.
It was conceived by Bhardwaj after he met some of the police officials who were investigating the case. He later met Meghna, and expressed his desire to produce a film with her; they then came up with the idea of making a film about the real-life case. They researched the case for two years and found several contradictions, with each view having some validity. Bhardwaj’s script was an example of the Rashomon effect. Pankaj Kumar was the film’s director of photography, and A. Sreekar Prasad was its editor.
Talvar premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in the special-presentation section, and was screened at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival. It was released theatrically in India on 2 October 2015 to mostly-positive reviews, with particular praise for its writing and performances; however, some critics felt that the film was biased towards the parents.[clarify] The film was a moderate box-office success, grossing ₹302 million (US$4.2 million). Bhardwaj received the Best Adapted Screenplay Award for Talvar at the 63rd National Film Awards, and Prasad received the Award for Best Editing at the 61st Filmfare Awards.
Fourteen-year-old Shruti Tandon is found dead at her home in Sameer Vihar in Noida by her parents, Ramesh and Nutan, during the night of 15–16 March 2008. The local police force, led by Inspector Dhaniram, are incompetent and do not know the basics of criminal investigation. They initially look for Khempal, the missing servant; his decomposed body is later found on the terrace of the building where the Tandons live. The police question Kanhaiya, Khempal’s close friend and the Tandons’ assistant, who tells them that Ramesh might have been involved in an extra-marital affair and Khempal might have been involved in a relationship with Shruti. They begin to suspect the Tandons, and declare the murders a clear case of honour killing.
On 25 March, the Noida police arrest Ramesh for the murders. The police chief organises a press conference, at which he says that Ramesh murdered Shruti and Khempal after he found them in a compromising position. The victim blaming of Shruti leads to public outrage, and the case is given to Joint Director Ashwin Kumar of the Central Department of Investigation (CDI) and ACP Vedant. Kumar is contemptuous of the sloppy first responders, who botched the initial crime-scene investigation. He believes that the parents are innocent, and methodically builds a case against the father’s resentful assistant. His team uses narco tests in their attempt to prove that the assistant (and two accomplices) committed the murders.
Kumar exonerates the parents on 22 June 2008, and Ramesh is released from jail. As Kumar is about to conclude his investigation, his senior officer retires and is replaced by a new CDI chief. ACP Vedant, eager to receive a promotion, begins working against Kumar. This leads to an altercation between the two officers, which results in Kumar’s suspension. The CDI gives the case to a new investigative team led by Kumar’s former superior, Paul, who concludes that the parents committed the murders. Both investigative teams, with opposing hypotheses, make their cases to the CDI chief. The CDI files a closure report in the Ghaziabad court naming the parents as prime suspects, but the evidence is insufficient to prosecute. The Tandons file a protest plea against the CDI report. The judge rejects the closure report, and accuses the parents in the case. The trial begins on 8 June 2012, and the Tandons are convicted of the murders several months later.
Irrfan Khan as Ashwin Kumar, Joint-Director of CDI
Konkona Sen Sharma as Nutan Tandon
Neeraj Kabi as Ramesh Tandon
Sohum Shah as Vedant Mishra
Ayesha Parveen as Shruti Tandon
Gajraj Rao as Inspector Dhaniram
Atul Kumar as Paul
Sumit Gulati as Kanhaiya
Neyha Sharma as a youngster providing a sound bite (cameo)
Prakash Belawadi as Ramshankar Pillai
Shishir Sharma as J. K. Dixit
Tabu as Reema Kumar, wife of Ashwin Kumar