Verdict: Cheer as you squirm in your seat.
Hope dies a slow death with Titli but let that not be the reason you decide to give the latest from the school of Dibakar Banerjee a miss. After doing the rounds of various prestigious film festivals, Titli is finally here. Watch it and you know all the kudos the movie has been gathering have not been for nothing.
Kanu Behl who sits in the director’s chair for the first time does a commendable job that surely must have co-producer Banerjee grinning ear-to-ear. Behl and Banerjee after all are no strangers as the former did assist the latter with his much-acclaimed Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and later wrote Love, Sex aur Dhokha, another winner by the filmmaker.
With Titli comes another tale that takes the viewer back to Delhi; much like Banerjee’s first, Khosla Ka Ghosla. This time around though, the canvas is bloodied, the picture isn’t pretty. Things are raw and as brutal as they get. Titli (Shashank Arora) is the youngest brother of Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) and Bawla (Amit Sial). The elder brothers together are involved in carjacking. While Titli longs to get away from the “family business” and nurses a dream to earn a decent livelihood, it is almost second nature for him to help his brothers with their misdeeds. All three are held together by the patriarch that is Daddy (an understated yet brilliant Lalit Behl).
Titli finds an ally in Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) to whom he is forcibly married. Both strike a deal with each other to achieve their respective means; one to leave his family behind and the other to reunite with her lover. The tumult that follows is a ride that builds and crashes hopes.
Titli burns slowly as Behl takes it upon himself to carry his audience along a riveting session of story telling. The mood is somber, the discomfort is real. The second half of the movie does get a bit underwhelming when you can’t help but find the story meandering and taking too long to arrive at the point it wishes to make. One can’t help but also wonder if Behl gets a little carried away with the whole idea of “keeping it real”. The “toothbrushing scenes” will tell you so.
One of the many things that work in the movie’s favor is the portrayal of its characters. You know Vikram is merciless and yet you are moved when you see an almost humane side to him. You see Titli being helpless and then you sense an inherent strength in him. Similar are the other characters, whether Neelu, Daddy or Bawla. Of course, the character sketches succeed with the absolutely brilliant performances by the actors who check all the right boxes.
It can be safely stated that this will be counted as one of Ranvir Shorey’s best performances if not his finest one. Simply said, he is incredible as Vikram. Amit Sial and Lalit Behl ably support Shorey. Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi make very impressive debuts with the movie.
Much like Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla, Behl succeeds in bringing the dirt off the Delhi streets right to our faces with Titli. The lessons were there, the protege learnt well.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Titli must feature on your must-watch list of movies simply because it will be a long time before you are treated to such superb performances and effective storytelling at the movies again.