Desire, a 6 letter word that that runs the universe. Desire for power over the other, desire for love, money, s*xual pleasures are things we crave time and again. Pitta Kathalu, which translates to short stories, is Netflix’s second south and first Telugu anthology, keeps women in the centre of its universe and talks about their desire while they battle to change the power dynamics with their opposite gender. Lakshmi Manchu, Shruti Haasan and others navigate this big bad world of men to create a part exciting, part let down saga.
Director: Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam
Cast: Lakshmi Manchu, Saanve Meghna, and Abhay Bethiganti.
I don’t know if it is the strategy Netflix deploys to put the best one in the start, but it is a good one. Ramula, just like Thangamey in Pava Kadhaigal begins Pitta Kathalu on a shattering note prepping you for what’s ahead. Ramula brings two women to the centre, one wanting her power in politics (Lakshmi Manchu) and the other wanting to marry the love of her life (Saanve Meghna). But by no means are these women begging for it, yes they do face setbacks, and the patriarchy does try to push them down. But Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam makes sure they have distinct voices of their own. These are people whom technology has touched just enough to know what TikTok is but spell breakup as ‘brakkapp’.
Manchu shines bright as a woman who is ready to villainously help another woman just to satisfy her revenge, but ends up destroying the girls and her lover’s life. I don’t really want to tell you much about this, but watch it to see what happens when politics interferes between love. Remula is also the most prominent out of all four in terms of its visuals. There is tension even in the colour pallet the film uses.
Director: B.V. Nandini Reddy
Cast: Amala Paul, Jagapathi Babu, Ashwin Kakumanu and ensemble.
Domestic abuse and suspicious behaviour are two of the evilest aspects of patriarchy that have sadly transferred to modern generations too. Meera starring Amala Paul in the titular role, is about a woman who has faced abuse in her marriage and of the utmost degree. 18 years younger than her husband, she is already a mother to 2 kids, and the third is on its way. Reddy, in her narration, asks some concrete questions about a woman and her choices to find companionship outside marriage, how the husband who thinks of owning her reacts to it and what the lady does as a consequence makes the story. Meera has its share of suspense but does not hit hard as it should. Amala Paul plays the immaculate beauty with ease, she is the centre of attraction in any room, and the actor impresses there. Jagapathi Babu manages to play the violent husband on the right note.
Director: Nag Ashwin
Cast: Shruti Haasan, Sanjith Hegde and ensemble.
Nag Ashwin is one of the most futuristic and ambitious filmmakers of the Telugu new wave and has something out of the box even in the simplest of his ideas. The filmmaker, this time around in Pitta Kathalu is here to show how love is dead in a dystopian land where social media is controlling us. He creates a virtual reality world where a man can live his life sitting in one place, by the app sketching his day to day life using the data points. Even our food in this world is virtual. He manages to create a stark contrast between the reel and the real world.
While the virtual world is everything one dreams of, the real land is full of bad things including riots, destroyed environment and hatred. Amid this is the creator of this virtual reality Sanjith and a lady, he surprisingly falls in love with Shruti. The man who has taken away love from the world, falling in love, is it a good thing? I don’t want to tell you anything more than this. But Nag creates a world that we are fast approaching, smell the tea before its late. An idea I would want a full length feature on!
Shruti Haasan manages to pull of a character that shows range with her transitions from coil, to loving, to cunning to bada** and I love it when she takes the power in her hands.
Director: Sankalp Reddy
Cast: Eesha Rebba, Satyadev Kancharana, Srinivas Avasarala, Ashima Narwal.
In my opinion, Pinky, out of all, is the weakest short in Pitta Kathalu. Maybe I didn’t completely understand what Sankalp had to say, but what I saw wasn’t something new or shocking enough to part ways with an anthology that had intriguing first 3 episodes. Pinky is about a woman who is living a forced marriage and is still in a relationship with her ex-lover, who is also married and is father to a child. How Pinky battles the feeling and what goes on with the men in this universe is the film. If the filmmaker is pitching Pinky to be the centre, my sympathy as the viewer is completely with Srinivas and Ashima’s characters. Nothing wrong with that, but what is wrong is the absence of a concrete reason to sum the saga up. There is no conclusion to the conflict raised. The open end is a thing, but then too, a conclusion is needed; life goes on but not just with one episode. All the actors do justice to what’s given to them. But the screenplay is a letdown.
Pitta Kathalu Review: Last Words:
It is fascinating to see filmmakers exploring women the way they should. Not just in black and white but in grey too. It doesn’t have to be a cry fest when a woman takes centre stage, and all filmmakers above know that. With part fascinating and part low points, Netflix’s Pitta Kathalu deserves a chance.