2 August 2016 | bobbysing
Watch it as a must for the intense performances, rising above the hard to believe sequences in terms of reality.
Co-written and directed by Kanu Behl, TITLI is undoubtedly one of the most hard-hitting films of the year with performances capable of shaking you well establishing a highly relatable connection with the viewers, especially with the people living in Delhi and NCR. But unfortunately it's not the same Delhi anymore on the screen that once had all positive vibes and a unique freshness as seen in films such as Sai Pranjpye's CHASHME BUDDOOR in the 80s.
Interestingly Kanu Behl was also associated with two other projects using the backdrop of Delhi in their respective story lines and they were Dibakar Banerjee's OYE LUCKY LUCKY OYE (2008) and LSD: LOVE, SEX AUR DHOKHA released in 2010. However where these films specifically focused on the Punjabi ambiance of the West, North or the Central Delhi, TITLI thoughtfully takes you into the virgin lanes of East Delhi (lower middle class regions of Yamuna Paar to be specific) painting a different picture of the city moving ahead of all the earlier films mentioned above.
In other words, it's this authentic portrayal of the small adjoining houses of the region, the narrow lanes, huge sewer lines, tough living conditions, regular petty fights in the locality, unemployed youth looking for some easy money, numerous cases of road rages, builders lobby, easy availability of local ammunition, involvement of Police in even the small crimes and more, that exactly becomes the first strong merit of the film demanding a much deserving praise for its director along with his talented team of writers, art- director and the cinematographer in particular.
The second powerful merit of the film is its highly engrossing, impressive as well as disturbing performances that actually don't let you think anything else till it all gets over on an open note (following a set pattern). The cast ensemble brilliantly portrays the story of a dysfunctional family of 3 brothers and a father, with the elder brother going through a divorce and the youngest unwillingly getting married to a pretty girl, with a purpose of using her in some hidden criminal acts of the family not many are aware of.
Towering them all, Ranvir Shorey as the elder brother simply nails it with a haunting act full of terrifying anger, rage and violence. Amit Sial as the second brother presents a balanced act with a touch of kindness too. And Shashank Arora as the youngest (Titli) delivers an intense performance of a confused yet desperate youth willing to get out of his family's deadly mess at the earliest. Lalit Behl enacting their father (director's own father) impresses you in a different manner with his awkward lost mannerisms and body language.
But its actually Shivani Raghuvanshi as Neelu (Titli's wife) who simply wins the contest along with Ranvir playing a strong girl living with her own agenda of life that in reality has no sane meaning or direction, performing sportingly in the masterstroke scene where she pisses out of fear in the car itself.
Together director Kanu Behl, his co-writer and the team conceives a film that simply isn't interested in any spoon feeding (about the past) but does have a detailed visual description of the present life lived by its key characters with many small indicative insertions like the way they dress, eat, brush, gargle and talk to each other in a lingo that is so close to Delhi's real life found in such lower middle class colonies. Though its stomach churning violence and raw treatment might not be a pleasant feature for a larger section of viewers looking for their usual entertainment, but with a brisk story progression and crisp editing, the film doesn't drag at all and also provides the much needed relief factor too through some intelligent dark humour placed at regular intervals.
Stating its major drawbacks, the film is just perfect in its opening sequences and impresses you strongly in these initial moments till they decide to get their youngest brother married to an even smarter girl. And its from here onwards that the narration tends to become quite filmy as well as overdone at times with no investigations shown for the regular loots undertaken by the brothers in the same region, easy & mindless stealing of the trial-car (probably) killing the salesman too in the broad daylight with no chasing of police and then intentionally breaking the girl's right hand with a consent just to avoid the signing of a FD document. Besides, at one end the family is shown to be living in poor conditions throughout the film (though eating chicken most of the time in their meals), but on the other they are regularly looting rich travellers, taking away their cars too with no mention of where the money acquired from those crimes goes, skipping it completely.
However my biggest problem was with 'the unusual marriage' shown, that was just not believable right from the first scene itself where the two families and the couple meet each other.
Strangely the writers were least concerned about this particular point and just to move their story forward, simply decided to assume the girl's parents readily agreeing to the mismatched marriage as two dumb individuals doing nothing to fulfill their big parental responsibility and having no issues in sending their young, beautiful girl to the unacceptable house of such horrifying criminals only because she was having an affair in the past and they wanted to get rid of her at the earliest.
Yet concluding the review on a positive note, you should surely watch TITLI for all its praiseworthy, intense performances rising much above the hard to believe sequences in terms of reality. Because though it isn't perfect, the film still remains a highly appreciable and well enacted experiment that successfully draws your attention towards the kind of life lived in such narrow lanes of the otherwise developed metro cities of our country.