Pitta Kathalu is a drama anthology series with four segments directed by Nag Ashwin, B. V. Nandini Reddy, Tharun Bhascker, and Sankalp Reddy respectively. The film constitutes an ensemble cast of Amala Paul, Ashwin Kakumanu, Eesha Rebba, Jagapati Babu, Lakshmi Manchu, Ashima Narwal, Saanve Megghana, Sanjith Hegde and Shruti Haasan, alongside other cast members.
Pitta Kathalu is Netflix’s first Telugu anthology series. The series, boasting of big names and joining the ranks of other regional-language anthologies that have joined Netflix over the course of a year or two is about female power, politics, love and the complexities of relationship and life. Although the stories, from an outer perspective, looks quite flashy and interesting, the insides of it are a different matter altogether.
This isn’t to say that the anthology is in any way, shape or form unwatchable. But if you’ve seen the Tamil anthology Paava Kadhaigal, which came out just a few months ago, you’d understand where the differences lie. Again, that one wasn’t an all-out winner, but it seems to have had more heart than this.
The first story, title Ramula, is the only one situated in a village. The story follows Ramula, a village girl who is in a relationship with Ram Chander, the son of an ex-MLA. However, Ram Chander does not have what it takes to commit to her. He does not understand the differences between love and lust and is obsessed with fair skin. In comes Swaroopa, the leader of a political party’s female empowerment wing. When Ramalu falls in her lap one fine day, she decides to make use of her plight to push her political aspirations forward. However, does that spell doom for Ramula?
Next, we have Meera, where writer Meera is married to a controlling and abusive Vishwa, who is much older than her. Vishwa knows this, and thus, to inflate his male ego, tries to keep Meera under his thumb and constantly pregnant. However, whatever it might look like from the outside, Meera has her story completely under control. Will she win in the end?
The third story is xLife, where people’s lives have been taken over by a virtual reality device created by Vik. Although he does not care about what goes on in the life of others, that soon changes when he falls in love with Divya, a cook in his company. Things, however, don’t go as planned with his relationship.
The last story, titled Pinky has a divorced couple having an affair. However, their affair comes to a head when their lives invariably cross.
The stories in Pitta Kathalu try to cover themes and experiences that are real and create an impact on society. Being a woman-centric film (directed by mostly male directors though), the leading ladies subvert the expectations that society have for women. These women are real, raw and flawed. However, there’s a reason behind their flaws and a clear indication as to why they behave the way they do.
The stories themselves, however, are a different game altogether. Out of the four that we see, two (Ramula and Meera) had somewhat of an impact on me. These two stories felt the most real, were paced well and had a clear direction towards which they were headed. Pinky, although tackling another very common theme, felt like it ended abruptly.
xLife, which I felt was the weakest of the four, tried to go beyond female problems and tried to shed a light on society and our dependence on technology. Both of these are fine, but they still did not create as much of an impact as they should’ve. Both Hasaan and Sanjith Hegde are unequal and distant in their relationship and their power dynamics constantly shift from one to the other, yet, it never really leaves a mark.
The performances are probably the biggest takeaways of Pitta Kathalu. Saanve Megghana, Eesha Rebba, Amala Paul, Lakshmi Manchu and Jagapathi Babu are excellent. Sanjith Hegde is good too, however, his character, with nerd enthusiasm and excitement, got on my nerves for a minute. All four directors did a good job with their respective bits and they look excellent and bring out the themes of their stories pretty well.
Summing up: Pitta Kathalu
Pitta Kathalu is a slightly mixed bag of an anthology series that focuses on things that are, unfortunately, an everyday occurrence in the lives of most women. It’s watchable, mostly because of its good acting, but it seriously lacks the heart and soul for the most part.
Pitta Kathalu is streaming on Netflix.
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