Kanu Behl’s debut project, 'Titli', is the only Indian film to be officially selected for the Cannes Film festival this year
'Titli' is the first film to be selected in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes film festival. It is the only selection from India this year. Interestingly, 'Titli', a story of a family set in Delhi’s dystopic underbelly, is the directorial debut of Kanu Behl and has been produced by Dibakar Banerjee along with Yashraj Films. This is the first time that Dibakar has produced a film that he hasn’t directed. Behl and Banerjee go a long way back; Behl worked with the latter as the assistant director in his debut directorial venture, 'Oye Lucky Lucky Oye'. Behl, who worked on the script for almost two years before he could impress Dibakar and rope him in as the producer, says it is yet to sink in that his debut film is winning accolades.
Dibakar Banerjee (left) has produced the film, which has been directed by Kanu Behl. Pic/Nimesh Dave
He says, “I was writing something else earlier and Dibakar was not very happy with it. So I took six months off to assess what I really wanted to write. I looked inward and thought about what could be my most honest expression of a story; something personal, something I am angry about… something I want to scream out loud about. In 2011, I was ready with the story and soon I started working on its draft. Once I was convinced with my work, I approached Dibakar. He was excited and he said that this needs to be made right now.” Behl also found the ideal producer in Banerjee as “he not only protected me from the other commercial aspects of the film, but also believed in the script so much so that he would bring me back on track whenever I lost my way.”
Dibakar, however, says he was most reluctant to produce a film other than his own. “I have always tried running away from this production business. I envy people like Anurag Kashyap who can invest their energy like that. Kanu insisted that I should produce his film, but his earlier script didn’t work for me. When he came back with the script of Titli, it was startling and original. I was completely sold on the script and Kanu was pretty clever in wanting me to produce the film. Then when the script went for the Script Lab, it was one of the hottest properties there. There were quite a few producers who were interested in taking it up. But I must say that by producing this film, I have grown as a filmmaker. It was a mutually rewarding process,” he says.