Didn't want to do just love stories: 'Pitta Kathalu' directors on exploring relationship dynamics

Ravi Bansal
·4-min read

New Delhi, Feb 16 (PTI) Anthology film 'Pitta Kathalu' explores changing power equations between men and women, says filmmaker BV Nandini Reddy, who believes the Telugu-language drama with resonate with viewers with its layered portrayal of imperfect characters.

Nandini Reddy has collaborated with filmmakers Tharun Bhascker, Sankalp Reddy and Nag Ashwin on the movie, whose title means 'short stories'.

The filmmaker, who has directed the 'Meera' segment of the Netflix anthology, said they wanted to focus on the complexities of a modern relationship rather than presenting two-dimensional love stories.

'There were several themes that were discussed with Netflix. We, obviously, didn't want to do just love stories. They wanted something around romantic relationships. During the course of our discussion, we zeroed in on power structures as they exist in every relationship whether it's romantic or not.

'We thought it would give us a lot of layers to play with and also we can present a variety of stories,' she said in a Zoom interview with PTI.

Her short film depicts the story of a woman trapped in an abusive marriage and how she tries to find a way out of it. However, her decisions can't be called entirely ethical.

The director said she placed this complexity in the story as she wanted the audiences to draw their own conclusions.

'Classically in such stories, where the man is an oppressor, the woman is shown as the holier-than-thou victim. With 'Meera', I didn't want such black and white context. We wanted to treat both of them as real people with enough gray shades.

'It's quite Machiavellian in that sense because it will be open for debate what she did. Was it right? Should she have taken alternative measures? Is he the victim or is she the victim? So this keeps shifting throughout the movie. It was really interesting for me,' she said.

The Hyderabad-based filmmaker, known for movies such as 'Ala Modalaindi', 'Jabardasth' and 'Oh! Baby', said the anthology film brings flawed women to the forefront.

'As women and men, I think we should embrace ourselves with all our flaws. That way, we will really be able to deliver stories with depth and characters.' The idea of presenting flawed women as protagonists is also something her co-directors Tharun Bhascker and Sankalp Reddy were interested in.

Sankalp Reddy has helmed the short 'Pinky', about an unapologetic woman in pursuit of her desire. It stars Eesha Rebba in the lead.

He said the characters in the movie are just reacting to the situations they find themselves in.

'We aren't sticking to something that we saw in the movies in the olden days. We are showing what normally happens in a situation and how a woman would normally behave. So we stood naturally and truthfully close to that,' the filmmaker said.

For Bhascker, the director of the short 'Ramalu', the aim was to make his characters as real as possible for the audiences.

'It's not about men or women, particularly, but it's about creating characters, which are flawed, with a bit of those imperfections that we have in real life.

'Those little nuances that we have added, the actors have contributed and the whole collaborative filmmaking process has done, that makes it real. It is the thing that will stay with you.' 'Ramalu' follows a young woman who gets caught in the crossfire of romance and politics. The short features actors Saanve Megghana, Lakshmi Manchu and Naveen Kumar.

'Pitta Kathalu' will premiere on Netflix on February 19. The three directors said the streaming platform did not interfere in their creative process at all.

'It was definitely liberating. I started off with short films and I used to enjoy the kind of freedom that I had when I was working on them. Also there is no gamble of theatrical distribution.

'There are lots of variables here in the regional film industries, which demand you to make films in a certain structure and within that itself, you're trying to rebel. But this is literally freeing in a way because you know the format is different and timelines are different,' Bhascker said.

Nandini Reddy said the streamer took off the burden on costs and distribution from their shoulders, allowing them to work on their craft.

'You didn't have the headache of release, you didn't have the headache of explaining things. For example, in 'Meera', a lot of places, the characters speak English, because people set in that social milieu would use a lot of English.

'I didn't have to be conscious of it and a lot of other things. So I think all of us kind of really, we spread our wings and flew in directions that we hadn't before. It was very freeing for all of us in that sense.' Sankalp Reddy said Netflix let them experiment in a way that 'probably we couldn't do with a theatrical.' PTI RB BK BK BK