The Talwars: "Case will continue to exert fascination with public"
PA Carter, director of The Talwars - Behind Closed Doors, on the real rewards of their efforts, and the rewriting of history.
The Talwars - Behind Closed Doors, an investigative crime documentary, is based on the 2008 double homicide of 13-year old Aarushi Talwar and the Talwar's domestic help, Hemraj, in Noida. The four-part series chronicles one of the most controversial trials of the century that baffled the nation as well as the police, the CBI and the Indian judiciary. Director PA Carter speaks with Indulge about the real rewards of their efforts, and the rewriting of history.
What would you consider to be the reward of making this film? Realistically, how do you hope for this to have an actual impact on the Indian judicial system?
The journey of discovery, and understanding of the complexities and nuances of the case, and the insight it gives into human behaviours has been a reward in itself. We would never presume to seek to directly impact India’s judicial system, but we hope that we have contributed to the wider debate in some way by the perspective that the passage of time brings and by giving voices to a greater range of individuals affected by the case.
Tell us about the making of the film. How did you decide upon the subject, and what were your toughest moments?
The story of Aarushi and Hemraj has been commoditised to some extent by the huge media coverage it has received over the years. What drew me to it was the profound sadness at the heart of it: of two such very different lives cut brutally short in one place, and how that one night of violence, which remains unexplained, has had such enduring consequences for so many others.
There were many difficult moments along the way. A project such as this is never going to be easy.
Of the many issues that came to surface in the case, what according to you are the main points to debate, and discuss?
There are so many. The fact that no one has been convicted and held to account for these murders after almost a decade is the defining aspect of it all. What has led to to this situation are innumerable factors, all of which merit sober discussion and consideration.
Looking back now, what would say were the reasons that made this case catch everybody's attention? Then again, how long do you expect this to remain in public memory?
The intrinsic horror of the scenario — of a child killed in the dead of night in her home and then the shock and brutality with the discovery of Hemraj a day later — resonates deeply. It connects to some of our deepest fears; of the sanctity and safety of the home and the fear of the unknown.
As a now unsolved case, I suspect the story of Aarushi and Hemraj will continue to exert a fascination with the public as new details emerge, which may happen over time.
What were your personal reactions to the statements made by Rajesh and Nupur Talwar? What was your gut reaction to what they said?
It was important for the show and for our viewers that the Talwars were able to speak for themselves.
Give us a little insight into how exhaustive the process was, of sorting through the facts, and verifying inputs. What did it take to convince you about some of the material at hand?
This has been an immense undertaking. We have conducted more that 50 on-camera interviews, probably close to 100 interviews or discussions with people related to the case, examined countless documents and viewed a seemingly inexhaustible supply of archive footage from the media coverage of the case.
The nature of this case is, in essence, contradictory and counter-intuitive. Much of the evidence and testimony was conflicting or muddled, but as we spent more time some clarity emerged from the competing narratives. Very little is as straightforward as it first appears.
How would you like the Talwars’ case to go down in history? And how would you compare it, in terms of injustice, to other cases of domestic abuse, and violence? How does it compare to the cases that you’ve researched before?
I am not convinced that the history of this case is yet fully written.
When it comes down to the matter of honor or shame killings, how do you react to the inhumanity of such stories, as a psychological reflection of society?
Any loss of life - particularly at the hands of others — is a matter of great regret for all those who love and respect humanity in all its forms.
The Talwars - Behind Closed Doors airs on Star World & Hotstar, every Sunday 10 pm.