When I think about films from India, I automatically think of Bollywood films. Bollywood films are full of singing, dancing, and romance. The standard Bollywood story is about a couple that has something preventing them from being together or two people who will predictably end up together even though they hate each other initially. They usually have a happy ending as well. Kanu Behl’s Titli does not fit what I think of as a typical Bollywood film. I would consider it to be anti-Bollywood. Nobody in Titli busts out singing or dancing. They abuse and assault instead. There is some romance in Titli, but it is not presented in the same way as Bollywood. Titli is a disturbing drama that makes me question the human race.
Titli (Shashank Arora) is the name of the main character who is the youngest of three brothers. They live in the outskirts of Delhi and make a living by doing car heists. The oldest brother, Vikram (Ranvir Shorey), is hot-headed and is going through a divorce. The middle brother, Pradeep (Amit Sial), is more reasonable and more level-headed than the oldest. The brothers live with their father, Daddy (Lalit Behl), who just lays on his bed and watches television.
Titli wants to get out of the life he has with his family. His friend convinced him that investing in a parking lot would help him leave Delhi and he would not have to do any more car heists. He would have a reliable income from the parking lot. In order to start, he needs $300,000. He manages to get the money needed but loses it because he gets arrested. He then has a hysterical bitch fit at the local jail.
His brothers become concerned and curious about why Titli needs that money. They come up with the idea that it is best if Titli gets married. Their reasons were: someone can keep an eye on Titli and having a girl on their heisting jobs could work to their advantage. Turns out, Titli’s new wife, Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi), is having an affair with a married man and she wants nothing to do with her husband and his family’s “jobs”. Titli and Neelu make an agreement that will help each of them escape to a new life they plan on pursuing.
The second scene of the film introduced Titli’s family. Titli’s brothers and the salesperson who sold them a table were trying to move the purchase into their living quarters. The table would not fit through the entrance so Vikram and the salesperson started to argue. The situation escalated quickly because shortly after, the salesperson is on the floor crying as he is getting beat to a pulp by Vikram and Pradeep. Titli, Daddy, Vikram’s wife and daughter are bystanders watching the poor man get pummeled. This is about seven minutes into the film and this is all it took for me to conclude that the brothers are brutal.
The first car heist took me by surprise. An unfortunate couple just happened to be driving around the wrong place and at the wrong time. They end up getting beaten up and their car stolen. As they were assaulting the couple, the brothers showed no remorse. This scene made me paranoid because that car heist could have happened to anyone.
The second car heist was with Neelu and she had no clue what she was in for. She thought she was casually test driving a car with Titli. Once Titli drove onto a relatively quiet and small road and stopped, Vikram and Pradeep yanked the salesman out of the car and without hesitation, beat the life and almost all of the blood out of him. They were completely drenched in blood and Neelu was crying and frightened to the point of peeing herself. I do not blame her because I probably would have done the same thing.
Another thing I found to be exceedingly bothersome throughout the whole film is how the brothers brush their teeth. They brushed ferociously and gargled disgustingly. I would not have been shocked if one of them jabbed their uvula and choked on their backwash. I actually did want that to happen because it would have been hilarious and they are already dramatic people. The teeth brushing emphasized how repulsive these guys are and if Behl was attempting to convey that, he succeeded.
Titli has a fascinating plot that kept my attention but Behl’s raw approach in depicting this story made me highly uncomfortable. I am all for watching bloody, gory films but the violence incorporated was unbearable. I find it unbearable because this could happen in real life. The acting was believable and the cinematography was nothing special. The violence was harsh and sometimes comical, but possible. I would not recommend seeing this film unless you want to see images such as a guy injecting anesthetic into a girl’s arm right before he breaks her hand with a hammer just so she unable to sign papers. There are crazy folks out in the world and some just might car jack you in the middle of India.