Review: Hindi cinema had Stories of lust Y Ghost stories, Tamil cinema had Paava Kadhaigal Y Putham Pudhu Kaalai and finally, Telugu cinema enters the space where several directors tell stories based on a single theme with Pitta Kathalu. The beauty of such a project lies in the fact that it offers “commercial” filmmakers and actors the ability to go beyond the limitations of a theatrical release, when it comes to storytelling and format.
Pitta Kathalu begins with the simple but engaging tale of Tharun Bhascker Ramula which tells the love story of Ramula (Saanve Meghana) and Ram Chander (Abhay Bethiganti). As an extension of the universe that the director built for his short film Sainma, the story sees how a ‘brakkappp’ leads the chairwoman of the Swaroopa Akka Women’s Council (Lakshmi Manchu) to seek to use the situation to her advantage. But it is not without reason; all she wants is to be treated the same as her male counterparts in the political party of which she is a member.
Nandini Reddy’s Meera it makes you feel uncomfortable from the start. Vishwa (Jagapathi Babu) is married to Meera (Amala Paul), a woman much younger than him. While they appear to be the perfect power couple on the surface, their relationship has been rotting for nine long years. Sankalp Reddy’s Pinky it also touches on the nature of imperfect relationships. Pinky (Eesha Rebba) is in an unhappy marriage with Harsha (Srinivasa Avasarala) while Vivek (Satyadev) is married to Indu (Ashima Narwal). The way their lives intersect shapes history.
However, Nag Ashwin takes the platform that has been given to him with xLifetime make a social comment larger than interpersonal relationships. Vik, also known as Vikram Ramaswamy (Sanjith Hegde), is the founder of a virtual reality platform that syncs with the cortex and helps you lose yourself in a perfect world, unlike the one that burns in reality. He likes the shy Divya (Shruti Haasan), who is grateful to be his damsel in distress.
The strongest story in the anthology, hands down, has to be Tharun Bhascker’s. The director excels in the world he has created, skillfully aided by performances by Saanve, Abhay and Lakshmi Manchu, as well as images by Niketh Bommi and music by Vivek Sagar. The trio bring their characters to life and the film goes from humor to darkness very quickly. Nandini Reddy’s segment wobbles a bit due to artificial writing. Jagapathi Babu and Amala fulfill their roles well, with the latter taking the opportunity with both hands and giving it her all, the supporting cast tries too hard. However, that ending fulfills, so does the fact that Nandini delves into a less talked about topic: marital rape.
The Sankalp Reddy story is about things that are not said other than those that are said on screen. Weaker compared to the rest of the stories in the anthology, he still manages to keep one engaged. And in the midst of all that drama surrounding personal relationships, Nag Ashwin goes further and delivers a story that makes you question how good technology is. Sanjith (surprisingly) shines in this one, he doesn’t strain, so is Shruti. Also notice how your segment is the only one that is not named after the woman in the story, because that is not the relationship you are exploring.
While one has to search long and hard to find imperfections in the rural tale of Tharun, the urban stories of Nandini, Nag Ashwin and Sankalp in Pitta Kathalu they are not without flaws. Predictability haunts all stories to some degree, but what matters is how the directors manage to pull it off. It is definitely refreshing to see Telugu cinema tell stories of real and damaged relationships (and women) on screen without judgment. Try this one this weekend!