There are some films that refuse to leave you even after almost a week of watching them. Titli is one such gem of a film. For a generation raised on the diet of Karan Johar’s picture-perfect family, this one’s a shocker that jolts you down to the core. Imagine a family that shares parathas in the butter-smeared parathas in the dawn and blood-stained jewellery by dusk.
Hammer is generously used to nail down reality into heads of fear. Love is articulated in expletives and care is expressed by smashing beloved’s hand instead of holding it. Welcome to the world of Kanu Behl’s Titli, where each moment is as real as your biggest fear and earnest hope.
To begin with, the characters of Titli feed on ‘fear’, while the audience watches with ‘hope’ for its lead character, ‘Titli’ all throughout its 124 minutes of duration. Titli, the film’s protagonist, is stuck in a criminal family led by his elder brother Ranveer Shorey and strives to flee from the murky reality of his life to start afresh.
Easier said than done, his life takes a new twist after being married off (literally) to a girl who is in love with a rich real estate developer. What transpires next will shatter your idea of family dramas made in our country.
Shashank Arora is first-rate as ‘Titli’. The best thing about this wonderful actor is the way he uses silence to express grief, anguish, shock, helplessness, dismay and anger. For instance, notice the way he reacts during a theft in the jail allegedly done by policemen or the desperate look on his face in the basement scene during the climax.
The other actor who leaves his mark with a comparatively much meatier role is surely Ranveer Shorey. The actor grabs the role by its horns and owns, savours, and revels in it, right throughout every frame he appears in. In fact, his role of Vikram isn’t a cakewalk. It’s not a villianish character mouthing expletives and ruling the roost.
There are many layers to this character, which are gradually unveiled, without making it seem obvious. Writers Sharat Katariya (Guy who directed the brilliant ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha) and Kanu Behl flash few hints at you and leaves you to decide whether Vikram is bad, misguided or helpless man. Divorce was never so real in a Hindi film before.
Amit Sial plays the majla bhai, the ‘Thor’ among these Avengers, wielding hammer and smashing skulls in a way so brutal that it leaves the film’s female protagonist Neelu (Ably played by Shivani Raghuvanshi) wet her pajamas inside the car. Shivani Raghuvanshi makes her character believable with the ‘pride’ she gleefully displays while bragging about her Builder Boyfriend. Lalit Behel, the father (Real-life father of the film’s director) or rather Dhritrashtra of this dysfunctional family leaves an impact even in a brief role.
Nevertheless, there are few things about ‘Titli’ that work against it, especially the pace. The snail-paced screenplay, punctuated by almost-nil background score often compels you to glance at your watch to reassure that it’s the same day and year you walked inside the auditorium. The next is an indulgently elaborate puking scene towards the end of the film. It’s as if the director is saying, “Yeh real film hai saalon, aur mein tumhein reality dikhaake hi rahunga!” If you’re willing to overlook these two aspects, then you’re in for a rewarding experience.
The disparate characters of ‘Titli’ are let loose against situations that go from bad to worse, despite you, the audience wishing for a breather of watching them transforming into a ‘normal’ family, if not a Barjatya or Kjo Pariwaar. Producers Dibakar Banerjee and Aditya Chopra certainly deserve a mention here to back a film like ‘Titli’, and let it be the way it is, sans the commercial trappings.
Well, the reality is far raw you’ve ever seen and will choke you enough to cough it out the way Titli’s family does every morning while brushing their teeth. When was the last time a Hindi film made you stop by the naalas, and wonder about how people residing there make their ends meet?