Titli by Kanu Behl narrates a sordid tale about a dysfunctional family of small time criminals and movie's triumph lies in its meticulous detailing, raw & riveting feel plus well etched out characters that are soaked in reality and have been enacted in the same fashion. Mind you, Titli is not an easy film to watch or digest because the crude violence showcased in the movie stays with you for a long time after you have moved out of theater after watching the movie. None of the characters in the movie are what they seem like, with every character having his own web of lies. And, this is the most striking feature of the movie.
The movie exposes us to the underbelly of the Delhi and some nefarious characters who co-exist with you and me, probably in whichever town we reside in. The story & screenplay penned down by Sharat Kataria along with Kanu Behl sucks you in right from the first frame of the movie. This sordid tale about survival, deceits, tolerance and cruelty repels as well as compels you. The beauty of the script is that it doesn't offer everything to you on a platter, it requires you to invest your brains and read between the lines ; Like Bawla's sexual preference (gay leaning) or Titli's change of mind in the climax.
Titli (Shashank Arora) is the youngest member of his family which consists of his two brothers namely Vikram (Ranvir Shorey), Bawla (Amit Sial) and father (Lalit Behl). Titli's family is beyond dysfunctional and is a weird and warped family where patriarchism rules. Vikram has taken over as the patriarch of the family shoving his ageing father into background who is confined to dunking his biscuits unto his cup of tea whenever a fight erupts in the family. Titli's mother died when he was four years old and you can read in between the lines that she was at receiving end of her husband's abuse. It's an unspoken family legacy of sorts, much like clearing of throats and lungs, gargling making loud sounds while brushing in the morning. Titli's elder brothers are carjackers who hijack cars on the highway and use Titli to assist them. Titli's brothers are ruthless while conducting their business (carjacking) and use hammer to strike their victims. Titli is fed up from all this and wants to break free. He has a dream to buy a parking place in an upcoming mall for which he needs 3 Lacs. Meanwhile, his brothers think that they need a female accomplice, so they plan to get Titli married. They don't have a female member in the house as Vikram's wife Sangeeta (Sarita Sharma) has left the household and started living separately. So, they marry Titli to Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) to add a female member to their gang. But, Neelu is already in love with a married man Prince (Prashant Singh) who is a builder and when Titli comes to know about it, the manipulative side of him seizes a opportunity in it. He allows her to meet her lover but in exchange charges a fees for it .Whether Titli is able to break free and realize his dream forms the rest of the story.
Apart from its novel story, it is the characters and some well captured scenes and situations that remain etched in your memory for a long time. After marriage, when an unaware Neelu becomes a part of carjacking by three brothers, she is so shocked to see Vikram and Bawla's blood soaked faces and clothes after they hit the victim ruthlessly with hammer, that she pisses in her jeans sitting in the car. Than, there is a scene where Titli breaks the hand of Neelu so that his brothers are not able to take her signatures to encash her fixed deposit. Neelu willingly allows him do so as Titli is helping in her secret meetings with her married boyfriend. Titli injects her with local anesthesia so that her hand goes numb before being broken. This scene in a way sums up the movie as you are actually made up to feel the pain, the characters feel. And, it's the sort of pain that is used to numb things out.
Also, Kanu Behl has lent an unapologetic tone to the film's female characters which is praiseworthy. Despite being victims, they are not wallowing in victimhood. Neelu who has been forced to marry Titli never allows him to have sex with her. She loves an already married man and announces to Titli (her husband) in an unapologetic tone, "Prince Love hain mere". She makes a business deal to get cosy with her lover right under her Husband's nose. On the other hand there is estranged wife of Vikram, Sangeeta who has started living with another man. She has collected ample proofs of atrocities inflicted upon her by Vikram and files a divorce case asking for alimony. When Titli visits her with his newly wedded wife to ask for a favor, all he gets is choicest of abuses for his family and his father. Sangeeta hits out at his patriarchal family saying how his father manipulated her family by saying all lies to get her married into his household.
What lends a further impetus to the narrative is the realistic portrayal of characters by its well cast actors. Shashank Arora makes a impressive debut in and as Titli. As a crestfallen member of his family with a gloomy face and carrying cold, dry eyes, Shashank makes you feel for his character. Shashank has perfectly billed the character who is fed up from his dysfunctional family and wants to break free. Ranvir Shorey personifies patriarchy at its most complex with his brilliant act. On one side, you see his brutal side with him hitting his victims with hammer getting his clothes and face smeared with blood and on the other side you see his vulnerable side when he breaks down while signing his divorce papers. He displays his angst by using cuss words and cursing his family members for using him. This is unarguably Ranvir Shorey at his best delivering an outstanding performance. Amit Sial stands out as the middle brother who often acts as the mediator between family fights. Amit packs quite a punch as the demure guy with gay leanings. Though, he doesn't speak much but when he speaks, words such as 'Laundiya' & 'Dhandha' form a part of his vocabulary, showing his chilling and scary side. Amit has truly proved his mettle as an actor with his impeccable act in Titli. Shivani Raghuvanshi manages to impress you with her honest portrayal of Neelu. She has looked damn confident in the movie. Be it as confident girl who argues with the sales person at a car showroom, or as a newly wedded wife who thwarts all attempts of her husband to make love to her, Shivani has stood her ground firmly. Lalit Behl has portrayed the character of ageing father who has surrendered his patriarchy to his eldest son and is now content with watching Television by continuously shuffling channels. He has essayed his character of being manipulative with utmost conviction. It's a treat watching his dance steps at Titli's wedding.
Dark, disturbing yet riveting, Titli truly represents the evolving face of Indian Cinema. If you prefer realistic over gloss and substance over style, don't even dare to miss Titli.
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