'Metro Kathalu', directed by Karuna Kumar, has been streaming on Aha as part of its August festival. Based on a novel, it's an anthology. What does the web-film have in store? Is it worth a watch? Here we tell you in our review.
Four stories have been narrated one after one. If the first one involves two corporate employees (played by Thiruveer and Nakshatra), the second one is about a frustrated wife and a stranger who invites her wrath (played, respectively, by Sana and Ali Reza).
The third story is about a lonely wife (Nandini Rai) who stumbles upon a shocking fact while trying to develop an extra-marital affair with a colleague. The fourth story is about a family man (Rajeev Kanakala) whose nostalgia for a dead person moves her wife (Gayatri Bhargavi).
Whether or not the stories/narrations are interesting, the performances are definitely able. Even Sana and Ali Reza deliver decent acts. Thiruveer, who was seen in 'George Reddy' and 'Mallesham' in the past, is unrecognizable somewhat. Nakshatra is outshined by Nandini Rai, whose misery is wrenching. Rajeev Kanakala is a bit melodramatic, but Gayatri Bhargavi is understated.
Sans any songs, this 75-minute web-film comes with an indistinct and occasionally lifeless background score. The cinematography is okayish.
Since this is an anthology, a comprehensive take is difficult. Let's be fragmented (in other words, let's do a 'first half is good and second half is bad' kinda analysis) and just say that only the Nandini Rai story is convincing. Here, it's easy to connect with the plight of a lonely woman who is helpless about her husband chasing a chimera at the cost of a normal relationship with his wife. The writing department has understood the mindset of the character and presented it in a searing way. In misery, you meet a new person within you and that's what happens to Nandini's character when she learns about a shocking fact.
The web-film has got a couple of well-rounded characters and that's a huge plus. Nakshatra is an independent-minded woman and has developed a mental calibre in life, thanks to her childhood.
The Sana-Ali Reza track is contrived, with the male character behaving like an unimaginably intrusive uncle. The way he ends up cozying up to Sana is not only far-fetched but suspiciously bizarre.
Director Karuna Kumar has done a shoddy job at adapting Kadheer Babu's novel. Therefore, the dialogues and whole scenes are riddled with a strong literary flavour. Nakshatra meets Thiruveer in a cafe and keeps on delivering a monologue. The unstoppable train of monologues ends only with the final story, where Rajeev Kanakala's character delivers a long, nostalgic speech that is painfully dry.
Even at 75 minutes, 'Metro Kathalu' is a drag because of the bookish nature of the scenes. The characters, especially the ones played by Ali Reza and even Rajeev Kanakala, are either too unreal or too teary-eyed.
When you are reading a novel, your expectations are different. You indulge in unlikely, surreal characters and can tolerate even weird situations as long as the writer weaves magic with sentences. But when you are adapting a novel into a film, you have to be cinematic and contemporary. There has to be a reason why a middle-aged man suddenly gets senti about a person who died many years ago. There has to be a semblance of believability around a young man tolerating a stranger abusing him out of frustration, and him going out of his Gandhian way to help her find peace of mind.
Karuna Kumar was superb with 'Palasa 1978', his debut film that released in March 2020. Perhaps, his forte is the silver screen and not OTT.