TITLI is dark, grim and disturbingly scary. The best part is that director Kanu Behl stays true to the genre, never once veering away from the intended impact he wanted to have on the audience.
The characters, though dark, are real. They exist. On the surface, they function normally. But beneath, there is that deep longing to grab what does not belong to them. There is also absence of conscience in most of the characters, save Titli (Shashank Arora) who is caught in a cesspool of crime, simply because he is born into a family who knows nothing better.
The youngest of three brothers, Titli hopes to one day fly away (Titli means butterfly) from this crime infested nest which show absolutely no remorse. The impact of the opening scene gives a clearer meaning as the movie comes to its end. Titli, hoping for a better life, wants to buy a parking lot in an upcoming Mall deep within Delhi. Here is where he hopes to better the future of his family by doing work that is respectable and will earn him decent money. The camera pans on his face as the motorbike he is on with the broker moves away from the construction site. Titli looks with back with longing hard to fathom. This longing is revealed in the end scene.
However, when he tells his brothers of his intention, they are aghast. They would rather want him helping them in their car-jacking crimes along the deserted roads of Delhi, beating their victims to pulp without remorse. Titli does accompany his brothers, albeit hesitantly. The hate and violence seeps into him. He never raises his voice, nor forcefully air his views.
When the brothers realise that Titli is serious about his parking space, they get him married to a timid and shy girl, aiming to rope her in their crimes. But Titli is in for a surprise when he realises that his bride is not that shy, and has her own agenda in getting married to him. Not one to give in, Titli sees a window of hope where he bargains for her future for a tidy sum of Rs 3 lakh to buy his freedom as well.
Also Read - Titli Movie Preview
Behl focuses on just this one family to tell his grim tale. There is the father played by Lalit Behl (the director's father) who flits around the room when the brothers are speaking. He is either sipping tea, or nonchalantly having his lunch. Behl uses this character beautifully to portray to the viewer that this is no ordinary man. He knows what is happening because he is the one who has got them to this place of crime. Another haunting impact is of a photograph on a table staring down at the boys. Probably, that of their grandfather who would have been the first to go down this route!
The settings are so real you can almost feel the stench of crime. The house they live in is a stark reality of the poverty around us. Of course, you cannot condone the fact that they took to crime. That is the fascinating part that Behl focusses on.
Ranvir Shorey (Vikram) is the elder brother who is brash and hot-headed; he drives the family's thirst for crime. On the personal front, he is battling his own divorce. Shorey is first-rate in his portrayal of Vikram who sees no reason, just an opportunity. Amit Sial (Baawla), who plays the middle brother is the one who keeps the peace. A goon in his own right, he deliberately plays second fiddle to keep things in control. Brilliant!
Shivani Raghuvanshi (Neelu) married off to Titli brings a rare charm to the entire proceedings. She is willing to go to any lengths just to ensure she gets he piece of the pie. She delivers every scene with amazing clarity. Newcomer Shashank Arora as Titli is a study in understated brilliance. Never once you feel he is anything but this character he is portraying.
Overall, this film has that dark, disturbing feel of Dibakar Bannerjee's (who is the producer here) LOVE SEX AUR DHOKA
of which Behl was the co-writer.
The end scene beautifully loops to the opening scene to bring the movie into perspective.
For those who love their cinema 'real', it cannot get better than TITLI.