Tollywood, for a period of time, was flooded with movies which followed the same formula. The movies had a protagonist who is in love with a woman which is followed by the woman being disrespected and hurt by an antagonist. The protagonist then fights the villain to save the day and win the heart of the woman he loves. However, the winds of change are coming to Tollywood as more and more young directors and writers are pushing the boundaries of cinema with a much more modern take on movie making. Pitta Kathalu is one such new age cinema which also has the distinction of being the first Telugu language anthology film to be released on Netflix.
Pitta Kathalu has four short stories which tell the stories of four different women which are helmed by four young directors Nag Ashwin, Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam, B.V. Nandini Reddy and Sankalp Reddy. The four young directors tell contrasting yet bold stories of love and its various interpretations and how all it takes for a relationship to self destruct is one small push. Contrary to the popular belief that Pitta Kathalu is a remake of Lust Stories, the movie actually explores the stories of four women tormented by broken relationships in four different settings.
Nag Ashwin helmed the story titled xLife, which is set in a dystopian future where the masses are controlled by virtual reality which are under government control. There is no concept of free will and the virtual reality software is owned by Vikram Ramaswamy. Divya (Shruthi Haasan) enters the life of Vik and both of them are caught in a dispassionate relationship where the power dynamics keep shifting continuously. Nag Ashwin tells a futuristic story with flamboyance and at the same time capturing the essence of love.
Meera, helmed by Nandini Reddy is perhaps the story with the best acting performances. Meera follows the story of Amala Paul who feels suffocated in a loveless marriage with Vishwa (Jagapathi Babu.) Vishwa constantly suspects Meera because of the constant attention she receives from men. Meera deals with Vishwa’s constant harassment and threats by writing a novel. Meera conjures up an imaginary world to her liking which is in stark contrast to the reality of her marriage out of which she cannot walk out. Amala Paul and Jagapathi Babu deliver powerful performances.
Ramula, helmed by Tharun Bhascker tells the story of a Ramula, who lives in a small nondescript village. Ramula falls in love with Ram Chander, a guy who is averse to making a commitment. Ramula focuses on the glaring issue of skin colour which is unfortunately an ugly truth in rural communities. Ram Chander lusts after fair skinned women but with Ramula being of a darker skin tone, he rejects her. This is when Swaroopa (Lakshmi Manchu,) a budding politician who is peeved by the way women are perceived in politics, throws her support behind Ramula. The short story explores the idea of how Indian rural youth could sometimes be confused with lust and love.
Pinky tells the story of Eesha Rebba who goes by the same name as the title and is directed by Sankalp Reddy. Pinky is in a marital relationship with Harsha (Srinivas Avasarala) but is also having an extra marital affair with her ex husband Vivek (Satya Dev) who is opportunistic. Pinky explores how the extramarital affair threatens the lives of Harsha and Indu, who is Vivek’s wife.
Pitta Kathalu is just the beginning for new gen cinema in Tollywood as bolder topics on love and lust are explored by young filmmakers. The OTT platforms offer the perfect venue for Tollywood to explore offbeat topics and with Pitta Kathalu, there is still a long way to go in terms of setting the standards for future movies. Pitta Kathalu is available for streaming on Netflix and is a perfect watch for someone who wants to explore the pitfalls of loving the wrong person.