Pitta Kathalu Review: Netflix’s Telugu Omnibus Is A Male-Baiting Mess, Terrible Letdown

Here's our review for Pitta Kathalu streaming on Netflix and directed by Tharun Bhascker, B.V. Nandini Reddy, Nag Ashwin and Sankalp Reddy

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Pitta Kathalu Review: Netflix’s Telugu Omnibus Is A Male-Baiting Mess, Terrible Letdown

Netflix’ Telugu anthology of four short films, coming as it does on the heels of Netflix’s wonderful Tamil anthology Paava Kadhaigal proves to be a terrible letdown, the stress being on ‘terrible’. The level of pretentiousness and the tackiness of presentation are unpardonably high. This is an anthology that is based on untruthful intentions. Every story is told in a hurried haphazard way, as though the directors shot these quickies during lunch breaks for other projects.

I can just imagine the storyboard meetings with every director commissioned into this farcical fraudulent quartet pretending he or she possessed just the story needed to make the anthology rise and shine. Sadly, every ensuing story is worse than the previous one. This is coitus interruptus masquerading as a web series. Every story told here is compromised by a shocking shoddiness, loud performance and above all, the propensity to rub in a socio-political relevance. Each story has a female protagonist fighting male prejudice. But the stories are presided over by an even more brutal prejudice: male-baiting.

In the first of the four woefully inadequate stories entitled Ramula, a bucolic romance between a politician’s daft son and a perky doughty local girl, comes to a sticky end in the hands of a manipulative politician. Machu Laxmi is interestingly packaged for the politician’s part, paan, aviators and all. But hers is a uni-dimensional part and the romance that propel’s  her perverse politics into the plot looks more like a sales pitch for brassiness than the real thing. Director Tharun Bhascker seems to have little control over his impetuous characters. Maybe it was just the cramped space provided by the short-film format. Or maybe it was just not the director’s cup of filtered coffee.

The second story Meera is even more unlikeable. The lady of the title, played by Amala Paul is an entitled socialite with a possessive husband (Jagapathi Babu) who alternates between self-loathing and spousal suspicion. The wife is shown to be cheating on her husband, and openly flirting with every man in the  film.  I am yet to figure out what Meera is meant to be doing with her life, and what we are supposed to feel for her. The man-baiting narration gives us no room for contemplation. B V Nandini Reddy’s direction is crude and loud, often opting for a hammering approach to the drama with the characters speaking their lines as though everyone in the room were deaf. The story has no closure, as though the director walked away to another, hopefully more coherent, project abandoning this as a lost case.

The third story X Life, futuristic and  flamboyant, is my least favourite of the fearfully fatuous foursome. A callow young man Vik (played by musician Sanjit Hegde who should stick to music) in the future has invented a chashma that is so addictive civilization has lost the powers to feel real emotions. Shruti Hassan plays the girl who tames Vik. There is a twist in the plot which one can see coming from faraway. And that’s where X Life should remain. As far away as possible. The special effects and the sci-fi gadgetry will remind you of the children's show that Doordarshan made 20 years ago.

And finally to Pinky, the fourth and equally bland story, about two marriages on the rocks with the ex-wife of a writer pushing her way back into his life. This is a silly take on Yash Chopra’s Silsila with  terrible actors pretending to be passionately in love, and out of it. It will put you off love for at least five years. By the time the big confrontation between the two ex-es happened, I was laughing loudly at the cornucopia of corny characters and preposterous plot points crammed into 30 minutes of heat-before-you-eat storytelling.

Pitta Kattalu is abysmal storytelling with no redeeming qualities. What a letdown!

Image source: IMDb
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