Sunday, December 27, 2015

Titli (2015) - Review

Titli is a story of a dysfunctional family of three brothers and a father who've lived a life of crime and violence. They've grown up in squalor in a shady, run-down area (in East Delhi. Director Dibakar Banerjee's fascination with the city spawns from him growing up and spending most of his life there. No one brings out the nuances of the city and its character like he does).

They make a living car-jacking. Vikram (played by Ranvir Shorey), the eldest of the three brothers, is ruthless, bordering on inhuman. Killing and brutality come naturally to him. But we also see him shed a tear when he parts with his wife. The characters are not all black and white. They are real people. That's the beauty of Titli. Pradeep, younger to Vikram (played by Amit Sial) is mostly a peacemaker, mediating between the elder and the youngest brother, while still equally partaking in criminal activities with the family. And with their father silently (and approvingly!) participating in their wrongdoings, their way of living seems an inherent part of their being.

The youngest of the three, 'Titli' (played by Shashank Arora) is driven and has a dream. A dream of a better life. But that won't be possible without him getting out of this mess. As much as he'd like to stay out of the 'family' business, he's forced to give in. The more he fights his way out, the deeper he slips into it. Will he find an exit? Or will he succumb to circumstances? Shivani Raghuvanshi, playing Titli's wife, brilliantly portrays Neelu - innocent at heart and in spirit but strong enough to stand up for herself. She's no pushover and has her own dreams in life.

The film is disturbing in a lot of ways. One, it's fraught with violence and gore. Two, it touches on a lot of everyday issues we overlook or take for granted - the choices we make (or are forced to) - the decisions, that form an integral part of who we are - from the concept of marriages in India, dowry, marital sex to corruption by the very preservers of law, to familial ties binding us down into submission. There are so many of these themes that run paralle-ly and are so well encapsulated into the film. Titli has so much to offer in its 116 minute runtime. Besides the characterizations, which are the highlight of this film, Titli is taut and engagingly narrated. It's edge-of-the-seat storytelling and the realistic portrayal of characters, makes this a must watch.

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