Giant of a Titli

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titliThe innocuous-sounding Titli surprises the audience with its potency. From the trailer, you may expect a film set in the dusty, dingy ghettos of Delhi, showing how violence can be a means of livelihood for an entire family, and how escaping from one’s origins cannot be a way of life — and it turns out to be a little of all these. In the mesh of strands, like entangled wires on an electric pole, director Kanu Behl does not lose sight of what he wants to say: that only after escaping can you decide whether it is your thing.

Titli (Shashank Arora), stifled by his older brothers Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) and Bawla (Amit Sial) has just one dream: to run off to Meerut and buy his own parking lot in a newly built mall. Caught making separate plans for himself, he is swiftly married off before even getting a good glimpse of his would-be bride. Post a failed attempt at copulating with his feisty bride Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi), they become hapless accomplices. Neelu agrees to aid Titli financially on the condition of a reunion with her Prince (her married lover).

The plot unravels in a whimsical manner, being narrated in an episodic style. This might make its pace a tad jumpy, slowing and picking up in parts but this also gives the characters breathing space. Before we know it, we find enough empathy even to allow the bullying Vikram the benefit of doubt. Which brings us to the peripheral character of Daddy (Lalit Behl), is conspicuous through his absence. Whether it is sipping tea in a moment of crisis or making politically incorrect suggestions the thespian makes a startlingly memorable debut. While Shorey is the only recognised name in the cast, the lead pair propel the plot very credibly .

The cast is woven together like threads in a grand pattern. Through its characters, the film traces the story of Delhi’s underbelly in the throes of unparallelled transformation. Kanu Behl’s vision takes the commonplace and makes it singular. Whether it is the intimate portrayal of the characters, or their juxtaposition against the crowded landscape of building cranes and concrete structures, Kanu emerges as a consummate storyteller. Titli tells the story of its times.

 

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