Tarka (ತರ್ಕ) is a Kannada whodunit that was the debut of director Sunil Kumar Desai. Shankar Nag is a murderer on the run from the cops. He manages to hide in a house by threatening the lady of the residence (Vanita Vasu). He is in for a shock when he discovers the murdered body of her husband (Devraj) in her cupboard. In exchange for hiding in her house, he helps her dispose off the body. Soon after, they start getting calls from a mysterious person who claims to know about their heinous deeds.
Though released in 1988, Tarka manages to be a good mystery to watch. Shankar Nag delivers a straight performance, that is thankfully devoid of his swagger. The movie sticks to a tight plot and there are no songs or distractions of any kind. As the viewer learns more about the shady pasts of the protagonists, new connections are formed and the mystery only deepens. As in most mystery novels, here too the viewer can never really pin the culprit since the creator has not revealed a crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Once that is disclosed in the final climax, everything falls into place nicely. Tarka is an enigmatic little gem from the 80s.