Indian movie in running for Cannes film festival prize

“Titli” is among 19 films to be chosen for the Un Certain Regard section, exclusivley for up-and-coming talent

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An Indian movie has been selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the 67th Cannes Film Festival, a feature exclusively meant for up-and-coming talent in the movie-making world, it was announced on Thursday.

“Titli,” directed by Kanu Behl, is among 19 films to be chosen for the section in the French Riviera festival set to be held in May.

The off-beat movie is set in the “badlands of Delhi’s dystopic underbelly,” according to the official synopsis.

“Titli, the youngest member of a violent car-jacking brotherhood plots a desperate bid to escape the ‘family’ business. His struggle to do so is countered at each stage by his indignant brothers, who finally try marrying him off to ‘settle’ him. “

The film questions the notions of freedom, asking “is escape, the same as freedom?”

For producers Dibakar Banerjee Productions and Yash Raj Films (YRF), a Bollywood heavyweight which usually produces hip-swaying blockbusters studded with superstars, the movie is a decidedly different experience.

“At no point there was anything else but pure enthusiasm even from YRF’s side,” said Behl in an interview with online publication Dear Cinema, “obviously, everybody has been sane about it being made in a certain budget and that’s fair enough.”

Featuring relative newcomers in the lead roles, the indie film could face failure in recouping profit, but the director stuck by his casting decision.

“I wanted the audiences to feel that these are people who are living their lives and they’ve just been accidentally caught,” he said.

“The film is very personal. It mirrors my own journey in a lot of ways. Like many other people, I shared a difficult relationship with my father as I was growing up,” added Behl, “then somewhere down the road I realized that I had unconsciously started doing things that he used to do in totally different ways. I was becoming more and more like him.”

The movie will be screened at the Cannes festival and will be judged by a jury headed by Argentine scriptwriter, producer and director Pablo Trapero.

The recognition from the Cannes festival “means a lot because it’s my first film,” Behl said. “There is obviously – I won’t lie – self-doubt about what you’ve done, how you’ve done. So personally for me it’s really encouraging and it helps me know that there is something that I’m doing right.”

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