Titli seeks to prick our collective complacency and apathy. How?

  1. Bleak Existence

The film follows the story of Titli in an unnerving sequence of events. The movie is an insane analysis into the head of a protagonist born in shambles, surrounded by a filthy immoral environment that has affected his upbringing. With nary a flaw to be found, this crime-drama unfolds at a terrifically slow-burning yet somehow petrifying pace. The tale is intricately detailed and has been crafted with care and dedication; every single frame seems to be oozing with importance, whilst the performance of the cast significantly adds to the immersive atmosphere. It’s that look in newcomer Shashank Arora’s eyes – dry, dehydrated and dead – in the first few frames of the film that sums up much of the film. The movie focusses primarily on the perpetually stressed-out siblings, who are always only a step away from destructive violence. The more the brothers struggle to climb out of the hole, the deeper they sink, with their ageing, emotionless father watching the descent without the slightest dismay. Set within the claustrophobic confines of an all-male family of hawk-spit, cheap swearing car- jacking goons, living inside a veritable dump ~ an incomplete, ill-kempt structure filled with disintegrating objects haphazardly strewn around ~ the film plunges into this pitiless milieu with headstrong assurance, presenting a paternalistic world where corruption seeps into people’s pores and women need backbones of steel to survive. But just as central to the narrative are the terrible repercussions that arbitrary development has on those that are stuck at the bottom of the urban heap and are desperate to break free from the cycle of perennial privation.

  1. It’s terrifying how easy it is to believe the authenticity of the scenes

The film’s central drama hinges mainly on the severe emotional violence that the characters unleash on each other. Titli has a grimly real feel because the director has made no attempt to prettify either the visuals or the language. Writers Sharat Katariya and Kanu Behl don’t keep you at an objective distance; it could be anything from the patriarchal mindset to the hurried urbanisation, or maybe it’s a mixture of both and many more twisted theories. They challenge you to stop ignoring the so-called social blots, and once you’re sucked in, they make you believe that the injustice behind the rough exterior is systematic.

  1. A plethora of complexities and struggle

If you belong to hell, all the roads will bring you back to square one and there is no redemption at all. The resurrection and resurgence is not an easy nut to crack. The police inspector in this story is a certifiable bastard who not only sanctions heinous crime but also filches a large amount from a person he’s arrested, thus preventing the latter from escaping to a crime-free life. Even the young girl, whom Titli is wedded to by arranged marriage, initially seems very much a martyr, but that label gets diluted as the film progresses. (The character even when she is at the receiving end of grave threats and attacks, her visage reflects serene inflexibility and stern firmness. In a male-dominated cast, she provides the spark that injects a degree of tangible humanity into the dystopian drama.)

  1. The film’s tryst with horrifying reality

Titli doesn’t terrify you; neither does it make you privy to some private conversations. Instead, it pushes you out of slumber and makes you see the after-effects of a waywardly classic liberal economy. The film’s tryst with reality will keep you hooked till the end, to say the least. The family that is being shown is beyond dysfunctional. It’s a weird and warped family of rough delinquent, unwashed men, the kind that you don’t normally find in Hindi cinema. The ineffectual daddy has been shoved to the background with brother Vikram taking over as the patriarch. Vikram is a physically violent emotionally volatile animal who is separated from his wife and daughter but who still continues his aggressive no-holds-barred insanity. Calmly observing it all is the father, at a glance a passive bystander, but really the controlling force — his sons didn’t get this way on their own. The father’s own father, in a photograph, watches passively, his recurrent image further acknowledgment of the lineage of dysfunctionality. These characters inhabit in a universe of lies, betrayal, desperation and subterfuge; and there is no room whatsoever for true love. Delhi is presented as a faceless metropolis where rampant construction of generically gleaming high-rises coexists with squalid forgotten corners. The noirish milieu — working-class cut-throats, aspirational proles, amoral businessmen — is the stock-in-trade of producer Dibakar Banerjee, whose own directorial efforts (“Khosla’s Nest,” “Shanghai”) similarly reveal the flip side of the Indian economic miracle (Behl is co-writer of Banerjee’s “LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha”).

  1. A consistent realistic tone

Titli – named after the perpetually half-scowling zonked-looking youngster who somehow survives through this hell-ride of a movie – is the Hindi name for butterflies which have a good chance of flitting through your stomach during some choice moments of this bruiser. The movie is an unflinching biopsy of Delhi’s worst – a companion film to B.A Pass (another Behl there), Love Sex Aur Dhoka and Khosla Ka Ghosla all of which expose urban degeneracy-‘n’-corruption without the trappings of mainstream fluff. Powered by debutante Kanu Behl’s unfettered direction, and an intensifying performance by Ranvir Shorey, this is Indian art-house pounded through the pulp of brutal reality. The parallels between this picture and Banerjee’s auteuristic ouevre are conspicuous – a Delhi which has become infernal, cars waylaid with murderous intent (cf. ‘LSD’), police inspectors outclassing the thugs in criminal caliber, and a widepsread malignancy of morals in the picturized populace. In the end, the film is about survival, adaptation and defining what really defines strong and weak, good and bad.

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