Cast: Shashank Arora, Lalit Behl, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Ranveer Shorey, Amit Sial, Prashant Singh
Director: Kanu Behl
A repulsively hard-hitting take about a family involved in crime and criminality with no compunction for outcomes, this Dibaker Bannerjee produced outing has a debutant director Kanu Behl helming the show with a dispassionate, almost perverse vituperation that disallows any sympathy for its lead characters.
This is a tough movie to sit through. There’s simply no relief to be had- not even in the ending where the titular protagonist heads for a new life. It’s as though even that one concession to a ray of hope is suspect. That’s how bleak the story and trajectory of the outcomes are.
So if you have a strong enough constitution and are not averse to seeing something this dark then Titli’s family may carry some interest for you. In the badlands of Delhi’s lower middle-class dystopic underbelly, Titli (Shashank Arora), the youngest member of a violent car-jacking brotherhood, vacillates between plotting desperate escapes and maintaining status quo with the criminal business that his family is involved in.
Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) is basically the Godfather like patriarch who has controlling interest in the acts of crime that his family members employ. Pradeep (Amit Sial) and Titli, his younger siblings have little say in the means employed to bring in the daily bread. The ageing father (Lalit Behl) is no bystander here. There’s more than an allusion to his involvement in getting his children on this trip to nowhere.
The wives and girl-friends are the more tender yet spirited halves of this almost sinister story. Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) who is forcibly married to Titli, enters into a convenient arrangement with him in order to escape from the familial stranglehold that binds them.
Behl starts off on a gritty note as he introduces the viewer to the less spangled dark corners of India’s capital city.
The streets are dense and narrow, small jhuggi’s crammed together and large families operating their livelihoods from within matchbox size apartment blocks. With a hand held camera he is basically getting us close and personal with the milieu and status of his lead family. As he draws us closer into the vortex of near impoverished city life we start getting a glimpse of the dark heart that lies within.
The intertwining tableau is morally complicated further with Vikram’s battered ex-wife and daughter, Neelu’s wealthy married lover Prince, and the middle brother’s amours. Everyone here is seeking a way out and economics seems to be the key. Titli’s dream is to invest in a parking lot at a mall which could become his escape route for the future. Caste differences don’t even come into the picture.
Director Kanu Behl does well to root this noir film in harsh realism..but unfortunately it’s not an experience that one can come out of the theatre raving about. The emotional cost is just a little too high to be bearable.