'Titli' review: The fight or flight dilemma!

'Titli' review: The fight or flight dilemma!

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 10 August 2018

Movie Title

'Titli' review: The fight or flight dilemma!


Kanu Behl

Star Cast

Shashank Arora, Ranvir Shorey, Lalit Behl, Shivani Raghuvanshi

Hope, ambition, dreams, morality - all crushed and blended under one roof, where four men live. You almost feel the claustrophobia in the cramped home, even as they are at each other's throats and in each other's lives. Titli (Shashank Arora) is the youngest of the three brothers, and seemingly, the least violent. They're a family of petty criminals living in a nondescript part of Delhi, and Titli silently wants to flutter away to freedom.

Far worse than seeing his older brothers get physically violent with everyone is breathing the emotional turbulence at home. The oldest brother (Ranvir Shorey) is beaten by life, and hence beats everyone else. This tough guy is emotionally crushed when his wife finally decides she's had enough of his violent streak, and walks out of the marriage with their daughter.

The middle brother (Amit Sial) is often the peace-maker. You can sense his defeated spirit as his now-graying hair stand testament to aspirations never fulfilled. The father (Lalit Behl) is an equally interesting character-even as he witnesses the daily drama within the three brothers with the coldness of an outsider.

It's telling when we see Titli in a T-shirt that says, "Helter-skelter". That's pretty much his mental state as he flits about trying to make a life for himself. His brothers set him up in an arranged marriage with Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi), who they hope will reign in Titli's rebellion and become a valuable female member for their petty crimes. Of course, nothing quite goes as expected, and this new family member comes with her own set of aspirations and moral equations.

Co-writer and director Kanu Behl weaves a sordid story about this dysfunctional family where there is as much love as hate, as much violence as there are hints of tenderness. The shifting equations between characters has us riveted throughout, and it's hugely exciting to see how each character finds love and betrayal from the unlikeliest of sources.

It's interesting that the names of the characters are often apt. Titli means butterfly, while an oily yet charming character is called Prince. Behl successfully makes us squirm in some scenes, where the desperate characters go to unreasonable lengths to achieve their goal.

As a storyteller, Behl's biggest triumph is that he makes us care for each of his characters without judgment.

Each actor is on the top of their game here. Each performance is worth savoring, especially Shashank Arora's earnest and delightfully consistent portrayal of a hapless young man, faced with too many grim dilemmas. It's a treat to watch Ranvir Shorey masterfully bringing out his bullying character's hidden vulnerabilities.

The only portion that falls weak is the arranged marriage scene. It seems highly improbable that Neelu's comparatively well-off family would be this keen to marry their daughter into the all-male household, known for their criminal leanings.

You wonder if this film is more physically violent or emotionally brutal. The background score beautifully accentuates the characters' disturbed state of mind. Astute editing, cinematography and excellent production design are other triumphs.

The film, that premiered at Un certain Regard Section of Cannes Film Festival 2014, is delightfully nonchalant about being morally ambiguous. When life gets so desperate that you must choose between flight-or-fight, it becomes that much more challenging to decipher the good from the bad.

Perhaps morality is the privilege of a few, it seems to say. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant; what matters is whether the film talks to you and moves you. And this one does significantly!

Rating: 4.5 stars

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