The international streaming giant Netflix’s maiden anthology series ‘Lust Stories’ was a runaway hit. As the title suggests, it was about four different women and their desires. Netflix’s debut Telugu production, Pitta Kathalu (meaning Short Stories), is also an anthology series on the lines of ‘Lust Stories’, but the theme is ‘love’, not the lust.
Season one of ‘Pitta Kathalu’, has four different stories directed by four different filmmakers – one female director and three male directors exploring various aspects of love and betrayal involving different women.
Love is a predominant theme that binds these stories, apart from placing women as the protagonists. ‘Manipulation’ is another undercurrent theme that pervades all through four stories.
Except for Nag Ashwin’s sci-fi story “x-life”, the remaining three are set in Telangana and Hyderabad.
Story 1: Ramula
The setting is rural Telangana. Ramula is in love with Rama Chander. Rama Chander is an ex-MLA’s son. They do Tik-Tok videos together, indulge in ‘corner seat fun’ in the local theater. But Chander doesn’t commit to the relationship. Exasperated with his attitude and the pressure from her brother, she attempts suicide. A local politician Swaroopa saves her. Swaroopa has her own agenda.
Bottom-line: ‘Ramula’ is a simple, but well-made story written and directed by Tharun Bhaskar. The ending makes all the difference and it stands out among all four. Newcomer Saanve Megghana and upcoming actor Naveen Kumar as the young lovers steal the show. Their performances are natural, the dialogue delivery is realistic. Lakshmi Manchu suits perfectly in the role of a Telangana politician Swaroopa.
Story 2: Meera
Meera is a writer. She pens novels. A mother of two, Meera is expecting her third child with her husband Vishnu. He is 18-years older than her and is always suspicious of her infidelity.
Bottom-line: Director Nandini Reddy portrays an abusive marital relationship from a different perspective. The story has shades of ‘Gone Girl’, but Nandini maintains the suspense quite well, holds our interest till the end. This story also has some love-making scenes. It is a thematically and stylistic departure for Nandini Reddy. Amala Paul plays the role of Meera beautifully. Jagapathi Babu as a wealthy and obsessive husband has given a good performance.
Story 3: xLife
Vik, a founder of a virtual reality company, is accused of destroying love in humans. He equates love with sex. Love doesn’t exist between a man and a woman, all they do make love and create babies is his theory. Such a guy falls for one of his employees Divya.
Bottom-line: ‘xLife’, directed by Nag Ashwin, is a futuristic drama. Nag Ashwin must have used this story as a ‘practicing session’ before he moving on to direct a sci-fi thriller with Prabhas. It is a bit weird, a bit ambitious. It has not worked much for me. The performances are also pretty plain. The production design and VFX work, however, are quite impressive.
Story 4: Pinky
The story is set in Hyderabad. Pinky aka Priyanka (Eesha Rebba) got separated from her first husband Vivek Panigrahi (Satya Dev) and got married to Harsha (Avasarala). Vivek is a writer, and he married Indu (Ashima). Pinky is still maintaining a secret relationship with her first husband Vivek. When Vivek and Indu decide to move to Germany, they put their house for sale, and Harha along with Pinky comes to their house to buy it.
Bottom-line: ‘Pinky’, directed by Sankalp Reddy, is a relationship drama with some strange ideas. It seems to be inspired by the 2004 Hollywood movie ‘Closer’. It doesn’t work at all.
By: Jalapathy Gudelli
Series: Pitta Kathalu (Season 1)
Cast: Lakshmi Manchu, Saanve Megghana, Naveen Kumar, Amala Paul, Jagapathi Babu, Ashwin Kakumanu, Sanjith Hegde, Shruti Haasan, Satya Dev, Srinivas Avasarala, Eesha Rebba, and Ashima Narwal
Directed by: Tharun Bhascker, B.V Nandini Reddy, Nag Ashwin, and Sankalp Reddy
Streaming Date: Feb 19, 2021
Streaming on: Netflix