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Pitta Kathalu Review: This Telegu Anthology Is Part Entertaining, Part Dry

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Pitta Kathalu Review: This is now streaming on Netflix and the Telegu film is a ride that leaves one with a mixed bag of emotions. Also, is it just me, or it seems to be raining anthologies for the last few months?

Directed by Tharun Bhascker, Sankalp Reddy, Nandini Reddy and Nag Ashwin, the title of the film loosely translates to ‘small stories’. It stars Saanve Megghana, Eesha Rebba, Lakshmi Manchu, Shruti Haasan and Amala Paul in lead roles. The actors leave quite a mark on the audience’s mind with their glorious performances, despite the ups and downs of the screenplay. The anthology is divided into four parts, but sadly not all of them stand out. Sure, the film explores some bold and dark topics and shows us varied shades of its women characters.

But overall it employs many done-to-death tropes and predictable plot-twists, which can leave you frustrated beyond anything. Although seeing women grab the centre stage and take control of their own lives in Telegu cinema, which otherwise is famous for its male-dominated and action-packed films, is quite refreshing and hence Pitta Kathalu is a film that deserves a chance.

The Different Stories

Tharun Bhascker’s Ramula

The first film in the anthology is Tharun Bhascker’s Ramula. It follows the lives of two women. First is the female politician Swaroopa (Lakshmi Manchu) who is struggling for recognition in a world governed by men.  The second story follows Ramula and her boyfriend Ram Chander, who is kind of a loser when compared to the soft-hearted Ramula. Brought up in a traditional household, Ramula has very rigid ideas on desire and pre-marital sex, and this causes a rift between her and her lover, leading to their breakup.

What happens next is what makes this film the best of the anthology. At one point the two parallel tracks converge, and it is honestly quite beautifully stitched together. Director Tharun Bhascker has also added some comic relief within his realist tale, which makes up for an entertaining and fulfilling watch.

BV Nandini Reddy’s Meera

BV Nandini Reddy’s Meera tells a story of marital upheaval and female vengeance. Meera (Amala Paul) has been stuck in an abusive marriage with Vishwa (Jagapathi Babu) for over a decade now. Vishwa is a man tormented by insecurities over his pretty wife and is prone to bouts of violence. Although the couple looks perfect on the outside, Director Nandini Reddy takes us behind closed doors to break the myth of perfect families. The climax of this film in the anthology arrives with Meera becoming a femme fatale and ensnaring her husband in her revengeful anger. Meera’s character is also quite intriguing as she keeps us guessing throughout.

Nag Ashwin’s XLife

Nag Ashwin’s XLife reminded me of Glitch, which was part of the Amazon Prime Video’s Unpaused, which also dealt with the virtual world. In XLife, we are taken to a dystopian world where technology has taken control of human mind and all emotions, including love, are in a state of extinction. We are introduced to Vikram (Sanjith Hegde) who is the founder of XLife, the most advanced virtual reality.

Divya (Shruti Haasan) is a docile worker at his company and such is the cruelty of this capitalist lord that he takes Divya to be his personal slave. Divya is then torn between being a damsel in distress and a warrior princess and altogether, Nag Ashwin’s film feels like it was ambitious in its plan but shallow in its execution. I could predict the twist halfway through the film, and it quite broke the flow created by its previous counterparts.

Sankalp Reddy’s Pinky

The final film in the anthology is Sankalp Reddy’s Pinky. It revolves around the extra-marital affair between a former couple who are both now married to other people: Priyanka (Eesha Rebba) is married to Harsha (Srinivas Avasarala), and Viviek (Satya Dev) is married to Indu (Ashima Narwal). We are told that once upon a time Priyanka, who is called by her pet name Pinky, was married to Vivek. Through a stroke of mishaps, all four of them are stuck together in the same room.

And although the premise sounds like it would give us some hilariously entertaining drama, Pinky fails to be even mildly entertaining. To then end the anthology that started with the excitement of Ramula with this story is kind of a big let-down.

Pitta Kathalu Review – The set design and soundtracks of all the films serve their purpose and are quite striking in themselves.

And although Pitta Kathalu somewhere falls flat halfway, it is undoubtedly refreshing to see women-centric stories that don’t pass judgement on its women characters or try to forcefully showcase them in a positive light. The film acknowledges each woman’s imperfection and seems to be content in celebrating them as such. And for that Pitta Kathalu deserve a mindful watch.

Picture Credit: YouTube ScreenGrab

Views expressed are the author’s own.