'Anger Tales' is the latest Telugu-language anthology. The four-episode series is currently streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.
Last year, 'Meet Cute' (streaming on SonyLIV) was a Telugu-language anthology that offered some run-of-the-mill themes like death, and fairytale love between a commoner and a celeb. The theatrical release 'Panchatantram' was also an anthology that offered themes like death and disease without attempting to rise above cliches. 'Anger Tales' (currently streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar) is the latest anthology from the world of Telugu entertainment. Writer-director Prabhala Tilak writes stories occupied by characters that are pushed to take the odd step, housewives who face practical issues that nobody talks about, characters who make impulsive decisions out of nowhere, and small frustrations that explode like volcanoes in the medium-term.
In the first story, starring Madonna Sebastian and Tharun Bhascker as a married couple, the culture war between vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism is too obvious and basic. In every other frame, there are images of food or a conversation about foods. The stylistic background score and the slow motion stretches turn out to be much ado about nothing. It is shown as if the adherence to vegetarianism is not driven by ethics but by a quintessential urge to control the food habits of women. The husband's character is health conscious and is a hygiene freak. And his lifestyle is portrayed as inferior or boring. For all the laboured, one-dimensional portrayal of the domestic conflicts, the segment tries to transcend its limitations here and there.
In the second segment, an inept sales executive named Giri (played by a diminutive Phani Acharya) seems distracted by boredom and his nondescript personal life. His single parent, played by Sudha, is impatient; she wants to see him settled as soon as possible. The astrology touch is fun to watch. But the depiction of Giri as an unfashionable introvert is listless. The body-shaming aspect is not in-your-face, but the ending appears like the misguided dissent of a sore loser.
In the third segment, Radha (Bindu Madhavi as a housewife) and her husband (Rahul Ravindra) live in a matchbox house where the landlord's wife is a nuisance. The neighbour's cacophonous conversations with others exasperate Radha to the point of her developing morbid dislike for noise. The itch of the anthology to proffer bohemian/deviant solutions comes to the fore here. You wouldn't expect a housewife to do what Radha is shown to do in the climax.
The last segment, headlined by Venkatesh Maha, offers a good deal of respite. It has a couple of whistle-worthy moments, a roster of cuss words, and a bevy of situations that those of you who have been to the so-called "benefit shows" of big-ticket movies will surely relate to. Ranga (Maha) takes it upon himself to ensure the screening of an early show of 'Blaster', starring his favourite matinee idol, as a fanboy's homage. Ranga's undying loyalty towards the film star leads him towards the brink of a disaster when things don't work out as per his plan. The ending is far-fetched but the writing and staging are absolutely remarkable in this segment.
In summation, 'Anger Tales' makes for an okayish viewing experience if performances and technical superiority are taken into consideration. Give it a try but be ready to complain about its many flaws.