For students in a film school especially for those in direction and cinematography, nothing provides more inspiration than pass outs who made it big. On friday the institute hosted a special screening of 'Titli' directed by Kanu Behl who is an alumnus. Titli had already made news by being the entrant in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes film festival. Both Kanu Behl and his cinematographer Siddhardh Diwan were present during the screening and after it for a Q and A session.
Titli is about oppression in families. The story telling is so powerful, it hits you bang in the head from the screen. In most families oppression continues as a cycle. It passes from one generation to another till the cycle is broken by someone. Everyone in Tili's family is a ruffian, an abuser. They make a living out of stealing cars. Titli is trying to break out of this cycle by buying a parking lot but it seems like it is the hardest thing to do. The film apart from a brilliant script has extra ordinary acting, some of them by non actors.
Titli is also awe inspiring because of the way it was made. It gives young filmmakers hope. 'Titli' was produced under the banner of Yash Raj Films one of the biggest production houses in the country. Kanu Behl had assisted Dibaker Banerjee in two of his projects 'Love Sex aur Dhoka' and 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!' before starting work on Titli's script. When YRF approached DBP in their usual way of making a director sign a contract of three films one of it went to Kanu which became Titli. By the time the movie was in the last stages of post production it was already selected for Cannes which was a remarkable thing to have happened to a debutant director.
Kanu said that 'in a way which sounds emotionally charged' he made Titli like it was his final project. He explained in detail the trajectory of the script. During two of the three major drafts one of the characters appeared carboard like which he tried to rectify, he said. The seed of the story was obtained from a newspaper report on a hit and run case. The person arrested was from a family of three brothers. That was pretty much all that stayed out of the real incident, Kanu added.
The reahearsal workshops were intense and were intended to make the actors get the emotion behind the characters. He was trying to make them relate with the charecters with the actors' personal experiences.
Siddharth Diwan, the cinematographer when asked about the choice of shooting on 16mm explained how it was a joint decision. Kanu wanted everything to look as if it was from ten years ago and based on the tests that were done before the shoot they decided that 16mm was what was best suited for this. He also explained how he tried to achieve the filmmaker's concept that Titli's house was the only one in the area which was left like how it was, tiny among a lot of tall structures hovering high above it. He said he tried to make it look as if almost no direct sunlight entered the house and all that one saw was lit by light which was seeping in through a lot of structures which stood tall around the small house. All the locations were real, he said. Titli's house, however was modified a bit. Initially one could see the road outside from the rooms inside. This was changed into an L shape from which no view of the outside world was possible, thereby giving the feeling of being trapped.
Kanu said that the most of the discussion with Siddarth during the prep days was about shared interests in arts, literature, music etc. While talking about the edit, (the editor is again a pass out from the institute, Namrata Rao. Sound was done by another alumnus, Pritam Das) Kanu said that the basic idea was that of making people aware that they were watching someone being watched. That was the primary thought on which she worked and may be due to this reason you see a lot of dialogues happening when you are watching the person listening to it rather than the person saying those dialogues. Pritam, the sound designer has done a remarkable job in both the location recording and the design itself. Kanu strongly opposed the customary noise cleaning procedure all the tracks in the industry underwent to avoid the polished sound.
The cut we watched was one which is going to Cannes. When asked what was different in the cut for theatres Kanu quipped 'Pay for the ticket, go the theatres and watch'.