The year in review

Best of Bollywood 2015 countdown: ‘Titli’

In the first of a series, we present the year’s best Hindi films and ask their directors to take us through the most compelling sequences.

2015 was a good year for midstream cinema, with several releases that combined the realism of arthouse films with the crowd-pleasing aspect of the average putative blockbuster. Movies with believable plots, characters and narrative styles all emerged over the year alongside sequels and mass entertainers. A critique of family values and morals was one of the midstream’s recurrent themes, which is not surprising given the largely middle-class backgrounds of the directors. On our list of the best releases of 2015 are some of these titles, at least one outright entertainer and two films that didn’t attempt to mollycoddle watchers with simplistic stories and quick-fix solutions.


The year’s best film is the very antithesis of audience-friendly. Kanu Behl’s Titli is an unrelentingly dark and uncompromising study of domestic hell. Behl’s debut, co-written with Sharat Katariya, is set on the fringes of the national capital in a family of car-jackers. As the titular protagonist tries to escape the family trade and a forced marriage, he finds an unlikely partner in his bride Neelu, whose own secrets intertwine with his ambitions. Behl, who wrote Love Sex aur Dhoka for director Dibakar Banerjee, dispenses with the easy sentimentality that often cobbles similar attempts to explore violence within the family. The mostly silent yet malevolent father represents the systemic abuse that has made a monster out of Titli’s eldest brother Vikram (Ranvir Shorey), while Titli’s transaction-based relationship with Neelu is a grim comment on the new economic order that holds out false promise of economic progress and social mobility. There’s grim beauty to the movie’s refusal to take the easy way out, best expressed in the sequence in which Titli comes up with a way to get Neelu to avoid signing over her fixed deposit account to Vikram: he will break her hand.


The sequence is set in a service lane, one of thousands in Delhi, that, like so much else about Titli, is based on Behl’s memories and experiences of growing up in the city. “I had memories from my days in the Bengali Market area of a service lane where I came really close to being molested a couple of times as an older boy,” he said.

But the lane in which Titli takes a hammer to Neelu’s wrist is a fake one. “We weren’t getting a service lane, so we created one near Sangam Vihar – the wall behind the characters is a false one, the bricks, the dumpster, the water tanker and the trash have all been added,” the filmmaker said.

The sequence was shot in the middle of the production. A decision by Behl and cinematographer Siddharth Diwan to suggest, rather than show, the actual smashing of the hand was made early on. Previous scenes of violence between Titli (played by Shashank Arora) and Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) had already been canned by then, including one particularly nerve-wracking moment in which Titli grabs Neelu’s neck. “We had already travelled that journey, and the characters were close enough to arrive at this scene with the right energy and emotion,” Behl said. “It panned out well in the end. Shashank and Shivani are very different as actors – she does her best early on while he is more studied and takes many takes to get to his best. We took our time, and we finished the shoot in about eight hours.”

‘Titli’ clip courtesy Yash Raj Films.

Support our journalism by paying for Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Bringing the glamour back to flying while keeping it affordable

The pleasure of air travel is back, courtesy of an airline in India.

Before dinner, fashionable women would retire to the powder room and suited-up men would indulge in hors d’oeuvres, surrounded by plush upholstery. A gourmet meal would soon follow, served in fine tableware. Flying, back in the day, was like an upscale party 35,000 feet up in the air.

The glamour of flying has been chronicled in Keith Lovegrove’s book titled ‘Airline: Style at 30,000 feet’. In his book, Lovegrove talks about how the mid-50s and 60s were a “fabulously glamorous time to fly in commercial airlines”. Back then, flying was reserved for the privileged and the luxuries played an important role in making travelling by air an exclusive experience.

Fast forward to the present day, where flying has become just another mode of transportation. In Mumbai, every 65 seconds an aircraft lands or takes off at the airport. The condition of today’s air travel is a cumulative result of the growth in the volume of fliers, the accessibility of buying an air ticket and the number of airlines in the industry/market.

Having relegated the romance of flying to the past, air travel today is close to hectic and borderline chaotic thanks to busy airports, packed flights with no leg room and unsatisfactory meals. With the skies dominated by frequent fliers and the experience having turned merely transactional and mundane, is it time to bid goodbye to whatever’s enjoyable in air travel?

With increased resources and better technology, one airline is proving that flying in today’s scenario can be a refreshing, enjoyable and affordable experience at the same time. Vistara offers India’s first and only experience of a three-cabin configuration. At a nominal premium, Vistara’s Premium Economy is also redefining the experience of flying with a host of features such as an exclusive cabin, 20% extra legroom, 4.5-inch recline, dedicated check-in counter and baggage delivery on priority. The best in class inflight dining offers a range of regional dishes, while also incorporating global culinary trends. Other industry-first features include Starbucks coffee on board and special assistance to solo women travellers, including preferred seating.

Vistara’s attempts to reduce the gap between affordability and luxury can also be experienced in the economy class with an above average seat pitch, complimentary selection of food and beverages and a choice of leading newspapers and publications along with an inflight magazine. Hospitality aboard Vistara is, moreover, reminiscent of Singapore Airlines’ famed service with a seal of Tata’s trust, thanks to its cabin crew trained to similarly high standards.

The era of style aboard a ‘flying boat’ seems long gone. However, airlines like Vistara are bringing back the allure of air travel. Continuing their campaign with Deepika Padukone as brand ambassador, the new video delivers a bolder and a more confident version of the same message - making flying feel new again. Watch the new Vistara video below. For your next trip, rekindle the joy of flying and book your tickets here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vistara and not by the Scroll editorial team.