Gripping whodunit based on real-life double murder

Neeraj Kabi (left) and Konkona Sen Sharma become prime suspects after their teenage daughter is found dead.
Neeraj Kabi (left) and Konkona Sen Sharma become prime suspects after their teenage daughter is found dead.PHOTO: JUNGLEE PICTURES



133 minutes/Now showing/ 4/5 STARS

THE STORY: Fourteen-year-old Shruti Tandon and middle-aged male servant Khempal are found dead, and Shruti's parents, Ramesh (Neeraj Kabi ) and Nutan (Konkona Sen Sharma), become prime suspects. The botched original police investigation brings the case to top agent Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan) from the Central Department of Investigation. This thriller, directed by Meghna Gulzar, is based on the real-life 2008 Aarushi Talwar murder case that happened near New Delhi.

This docudrama-style thriller hits a raw nerve with a taut script by Vishal Bhardwaj that even-handedly covers the various aspects of the investigation and offers many different versions of the truth.

Right from the messy first round of investigations, the film shot in sepia takes viewers through it all without a dull moment, exploring several theories such as the teenager having an affair with the older servant.

The actors are impressive in their roles. Sen Sharma as Shruti's mother Nutan carries a quiet grief around her. Not openly weeping or wailing, even in a television interview, she raises questions about her innocence.

Both Sen Sharma and Kabi, who play the dead girl's father, have a rather dispassionate approach to a murder most foul.

What takes place on the screen feels real and is, at times, painful to watch, making you wonder about grief and its resultant shock. It is impossible for any parent to come to grips with the image of their own child's throat slit wide open.

When Kumar appears and takes over the show, his methods of investigation - sometimes harsh but incredibly detailed - and his sense of humour turn him into just the kind of dream detective we read of in mystery tales.

As Kumar reviews each step of the earlier police investigation, he reminds us how messy life sometimes is and why it takes multiple perspectives to get to the truth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'Gripping whodunit based on real-life double murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe