By Mayank Jain (L&T MHPS)
The directorial debut of Kanu Behl is a story of a young boy named Titli who wants to distance himself from the clutches of his gangster family and aspires to lead the life of a legitimate citizen and dreams of a better future. Although there isn’t much hope, he is driven by an urgent desperation to escape the world he is bound by. This movie hits you right in the gut from the first frame itself. It is about a world that exists right in our midst, a world so low and dark that we generally ignore but never forget while driving back home in the night. Even if you haven’t been to any places in the capital, Titli could be the dark reality of any city and the kind of people who inhabit these by lanes.
The protagonist, Shashank Arora is the youngest of the three brothers in a family of poor carjackers who live in the outskirts of Delhi. These by lanes are occupied by people who are stuck between the dream of having a better life and their ruined present. Titli’s elder brothers, Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) and Bawla (Amit Sial) are emotionally traumatised, without any idea and plan of their future. Titli’s family is beyond dysfunctional. It’s weird and warped family of rough-hewn, unwashed men, the kind that you generally don’t normally find in Hindi cinema. You may recognise these characters; they could have studied with you in college, sold you second hand motorcycle parts or even threatened you when you bumped into their scooter at a traffic signal. Vikram, the elder son is carrying the legacy of the family business of carjacking and their father nonchalantly watches his sons taking part in the crime and ignores until they are putting the food on the table.
On the contrary, Titli wants to distance himself from the family and wants to run his own business of car parking in an upcoming mall near Delhi for which he needs a huge amount of money. His elder brothers get to know about Titli’s plans and in order to clip his wings, they get Titli married with Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) not with a hope that he will not leave the family but with a plan that there will be a female member in their carjacking gang which will help them trap people easily. But Neelu to their surprise refuses to be a part of their hooliganism because she has her own frustrated dreams for which she want Titli to help her.
Titli, who was in an urgent need of money to buy the parking lot, makes a business deal with Neelu that he will help her fulfilling her dream with money in return.
The close ups and the dry-dead looks of the characters disturbs you as these give you an insight into a world far from the shining showrooms and international food joints.
There is a scene in the movie which is striking and haunts you for long. Bawla is staring at women employees inside a parlour tending to the male customers. The scene is disturbing because this man could be anyone around us, from the migrant to the garage worker or any other stranger, who feels stifled in a big city, or has been shocked by the differences between the contrast of urban and rural life, seething with anger at the injustice life has meted out to him. It could be the snake pit or a volcano on the verge of eruption.
All the actors has done justice to their roles be it Ranvir Shorey, who has given the best performance of his life or Amit Sial, but the show stealer is Shashank Arora as the glum, disinterested Titli. His morose face is the entry point of depression. He is every bit a wretched youngster whose dreams are crushed under the pile of violent developments.
Kanu Behl’s Titli is an impressive film. Its tryst with the reality will keep you hooked on till the end. It’s a must watch for those who like their cinema with a generous dose of reality and not for those who just want to spend money to watch some repeated non-sense on screens.