Titli director Kanu Behl’s film debuts at Cannes, gets 5-minute standing ovation

After his debut feature Titli bowed at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard strand in 2014, Kanu Behl is back on the Croisette with Agra, which had its world premiere at the Directors Fortnight, reports Variety.

“Agra grasps the reality of patriarchy in India through the prism of male sexual misery,” is how the festival describes the film. The film, which has been seven years in the making, was shot on location in Agra, the city known for the Taj Mahal, but also for its Institute of Mental Health and Hospital.



For Behl, as he told Variety, it was a deliberate choice not to show even a glimpse of one of the world’s most famous monuments. But he got the idea of shooting in Agra because of the hospital. “We all just live in a giant madhouse. And in that sense, this house full of these crazy people is also a representation of that madhouse,” Behl told `Variety`.

It follows Guru, a young single call centre employee who still lives with his parents. Consumed by frustration, he plunges into a fever bordering on insanity, between pathetic fantasies, dating apps and hysterical self-harm. The film also explores the role property can play in a young man`s emancipation, adds Variety.

Guru is played by debutant Mohit Agarwal. The film also stars Priyanka Bose (Lion) and Ruhani Sharma, Vibha Chibber, Sonal Jha and Aanchal Goswami in pivotal roles. Guru`s father is played by Rahul Roy, known for his romantic lead roles in the 1990s, including blockbuster Aashiqui, notes Variety.

Next up for Behl is Despatch, starring Manoj Bajpayee and produced by Ronnie Screwvala. The film is in post-production and bound for a Fall festival. “It`s a film about an old school crime journalist who`s getting defunct in the world of digital journalism,” Behl told `Variety`. “And, in desperation for a story, he starts investigating a case and ends up getting mixed in something which is way above his pay grade, and how that begins an odyssey into the darkest corners of corporate crime and white-collar crime within India,” he added.

As per TOI, the director said, “It was overwhelming to see a story that took me on a very personal journey, received with such love and warmth on the global stage. ‘Agra’ reflects a very specific milieu but the story it tells about the politics of sexual repression and the tangled skeins of desire, is universal and that’s what the audiences responded to. I feel truly rewarded that the film’s journey has begun on such an uplifting note. To see it being celebrated in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes gives me hope that it will open the way for difficult conversations about things we don’t address in our homes.” As per the reports, the film got a 5-minute standing ovation.  (With inputs from IANS)

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