The Rare Butterfly
TLR Rating: 8 Reels.
Evergreen Rituparno Ghosh is rapidly ascending my list of favorite directors with every movie I watch. Quite underrated among them is ‘Titli’ – a small yet beautiful film with an enlarging vision. The movie brings forth a lot of interesting points about adolescence, lost love and realistic expectations from marriage and also portrays eloquently a mother-daughter relationship (like that in ‘Unishe April’). Ghosh manages his characters beautifully with maturity. Right from his early movies, Rituparno is known to be the ‘Women’s Director’, as very few filmmakers directed films from a woman’s perspective. Rituparno successfully explored his motives with much clarity. ‘Titli’ stars Konkana Sen Sharma as the titular character, Aparna Sen as Urmila, Mithun Chakraborty as Rohit Roy and Dipankar De as Amar (Titli’s father).
Tilottama (or Titli) is a 17-year old girl who resides in the castles built in air. She is far away from the realities of the world. She has a huge crush on Rohit Roy, a ruling actor from Bollywood in the movie. Her walls and scrapbooks are filled with his pictures and she cuts out his pictures from magazines very carefully. She writes letters to him expecting his reply and is understandably very upset when she learns her friend got the same but she didn’t. She even tries to convince her mother to put up the proposal of her marriage to her father and her mother was shocked to learn that her daughter wants to marry the star Rohit Roy who is almost twice her age. Even being her mother she didn’t stop her from building such castles, as she knows, this is the fault of the age and not hers. Both the mother and daughter shares a warm friendly relationship.
The music given by Debajyoti Mishra and Srikanto Acharya was used brilliantly. The movie begins with the soothing song ‘Megh peoner bager bhetor mon kharaper dishta’. The aesthetic beauty also added a romantic ambiance to the story. The shots of the movie were taken in Darjeeling utilizing the dense jungles of Dooars in North Bengal. The dense fog, the sunshine playing hide and seek among the valleys, the Buddhist monasteries and the Darjeeling toy train provide fodder for an amazing cinematography and makes the movie worthwhile.
The story basically deals with the fantasies of the girl, Titli and how she slowly achieves womanhood. She and her mother were on their way to pick up Amar (Titli’s father) from Bagdogra airport. Her mother tells her how she too was fan of Dilip Kumar in her young age and immediately smiles when ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu’ fills the air. Their car stopped suddenly on spotting a person waving his hands to seek help. To their astonishment they found Rohit Roy stranded on the mountain road. Titli’s desires were set on fire and she started chatting with The Man of Her Dreams. Upon learning about Titli’s disappointment on finding the reply of the letter, the kind Rohit Roy invited Titli to visit his home. When Titli offered to bring cigarettes for her hero, it is revealed that Urmila and Rohit were lovers in the past, but circumstances had forced them to part. But now they have grown up emotionally and they reminisce about their past as part of an innocent life. They remembered how they had wanted to meet each other after the separation and their conversation reveals they are matured enough to know their responsibilities in the present world. Unaware of the fact that Titli had returned and overheared their conversation, the two continued to talk and Urmilla recited ‘Aaboni Bari acho’ (Aaboni are you at home?) which made it clear that both shared a love for art and literature.
Titli misunderstood the entire scenario and her all fantasies were shattered. Upon returning home she furiously confronted her mother and revealed that she had heard all of it. Childishly she felt that her mother had cheated both her father and herself. She demanded to know why her mother had hidden the fact that she knew Rohit Roy; whether it was just because she wanted to renew her relationship with the hero. At this, her mother burst out and chided her to grow up; Rohit Roy was her past and she had nothing to do with it now. If Titli wanted then she herself could reveal that to her husband. Initially he might get hurt but she was confident enough that he would understand and support her. Rituparno Ghosh draws the attention of the viewer here, neatly bringing in difference between the ‘reel’ and the ‘real’. Love alone cannot last a relationship; compromise, understanding and trust with love is needed in equal proportions to maintain a relation.
At the end of the movie we see how Titli grows from a child to a mature woman. Rohit had written a letter where he had mentioned that after seeing Urmilla and her happy life, he too had felt the need of a partner and decided to get married. Upon hearing that, Urmila for a while had become slightly disturbed, but Titli comforted her, she knew what her mother could have felt after hearing this news. She didn’t blame as she could empathize with the pain. Rituparno justified his title of his film, not merely as a namesake titular, but how a childish girl became matured after getting hurt; quite similar to a caterpillar bearing pain before becoming a butterfly. Experiencing pain in life is necessary to enjoy life in reality.
Konkana Sen as Titli beautifully brought to light the childish innocence and also maturity with time. The audience could empathize with Rohit Roy in the film and this shows how good actor Mithun Chakraborty is when given the proper nod. Aparna Sen as Urmila is a complex character. She has an affection for art and poetry and loves Rabindra Sangeet but her husband is unable to appreciate these values. But she knows that he has a loving personality and is able to adjust with him. On seeing Rohit Roy appreciating her poety, she feels pain, but is matured enough to leave that behind and move forward. Later she understands her daughter’s emotional turbulence and not only supports her but also helps her come out of this pain and makes her realize the reality. All the actors had done justice to their charterers. The chemistry between the characters was beautifully articulated.
Nestled in the quiet foggy woods of Dooars, ‘Titli’ is like one of the many species of the winged angels: unappreciated. The absence of a trophy laden cabinet never helped with its popularity. But it is beautiful, serene and melodious; floating in our hearts like a soft butterfly itself.
The author is a software engineer at Infosys and spends her spare time in watching movies and reading novels. She loves to analyze the literature behind the movies.