Pitta Kathalu review: Netflix anthology is bold but forgettable

Pitta Kathalu movie cast: Saanve Megghana, Eesha Rebba, Amala Paul and Shruthi Haasan
Pitta Kathalu movie directors: Tharun Bhascker, Sankalp Reddy, Nandini Reddy, Nag Ashwin
Pitta Kathalu movie ratings: 2 stars

The Netflix anthology Pitta Kathalu begins with Tharun Bhascker’s Ramula. It is set in a conservative town where youngsters hooked to smartphones and TikTok videos are now holding sway. Ramula (Saanve Megghana) is a pure centrist. She is conservative and at the same time, she is not. She has a boyfriend but is totally against engaging in any sort of physical intimacy with him before marriage. She wants to marry the person of her choice but at the same time, she doesn’t want to betray the trust of her family. Even though she sounds like a stock character straight out of our potboilers, she is not. The way she takes ownership of her sexuality makes all the difference. She is soft but brave, naïve but not stupid.

Ramula’s balancing act pushes her boyfriend, Ram Chander (Naveen Kumar) to frustration. The lack of intimacy makes him feel insecure in the relationship. Then, the obvious happens — a break-up. And what unfolds later is a series of revelations, deception and tragedy. Tharun strikes a solid balance as the film is bitterly funny and strikingly rooted. He has given a comical spin to serious characters and added dollops of realism to make it more appealing. All actors leave a mark irrespective of their screen time in the movie. Ram Chander’s father, Ramula’s elder brother and Manchu Lakshmi as a crooked politician get their moment to shine. It gives a sense of wholesomeness to the movie, making Ramula as the best segment of the four.

BV Nandini Reddy’s Meera revolves around a femme fatale. Meera (Amala Paul) has been in an abusive marriage for almost a decade now. Her husband Vishwa (Jagapathi Babu) is tormented by insecurities over his beautiful wife. He thinks she is cheating on her and he is not entirely wrong. His wife’s deception comes with vengeance, and she has her reason. But, it is hard to understand why other characters in the movie, oblivious to Meera’s deadly scheme, contribute to Vishwa’s insecurities. The people who gather at the couple’s anniversary party have nothing else to say except how gorgeous Meera is. Especially when men pay compliments to Meera, it comes with strong sexual overtones. It feels so unreal and forced. Nandini and her team of writers have chosen convenience over the hard work of weaving a believable, treacherous and clever plot. It wants to be Gone Girl, but what we get is an apathetic tale of a vengeful woman’s attempt at redemption.

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Nag Ashwin’s XLife is what you get when a filmmaker misunderstands the plot of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. The film is set in a dystopian world, where technology has taken control of the minds of human beings. Vikram (Sanjith Hegde) is the founder of XLife, the most advanced virtual reality in the world. Four billion people around the world have become addicted to this technology, which allows people to be whoever they want or travel to places they want while sitting on their couch. What humanity has achieved till now is at stake, forcing a group of rebels to band together to end Vikram’s reign. The premise is ambitious but the execution is depressingly shallow. The film that talks so much about love, and various emotions, does a poor job in translating those emotions effectively on the screen.

Sankalp Reddy’s Pinky is about an illicit affair between a former couple. Priyanka (Eesha Rebba) is married to Harsha (Srinivas Avasarala), and Viviek (Satya Dev) is married to Indu (Ashima Narwal). But, in the past, Vivek and Priyanka, who is lovingly called Pinky, were married to each other. What happens when you put all these people together in a room? Drama, obviously. Also, the possibilities are endless. But, Sankalp has chosen the least exciting scenario, leaving us feeling high and dry. The awkward silence, which is meant to add to the dramatic tension in the movie, feels ineffective.

Sankalp Reddy earlier told indianexpress.com that he he believes that digital space gives filmmakers a lot of creative freedom. And yes the medium allows the creators to be braver and experiment with themes, characters and narration techniques. To be fair, directors of Pitta Kathalu have tried to be bold and daring. But, just not enough to make this collection of short stories memorable.


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