Directed by Prabhala Tilak and co-written by Tilak and Karthikeya Karedla, “Anger Tales” is an anthology series that’s made of four episodes. Each story tackles a pretty common problem that people face in their daily lives, and yet they aren’t talked about a lot. As evident from the title itself, each episode shows how something as simple as a fan screening, eating eggs, a noisy neighbor, and balding can cause matters to escalate until there’s no option but to explode, sometimes metaphorically and sometimes literally. So, without further ado, let’s talk about them and the messages these tales are trying to convey through their endings.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Anger Tales’ Episode 1: ‘Benefit Show’ Recap & Ending Explained
Centered around the Laxmi Talkies, Ranga (Venkatesh Maha) tries to arrange a fan screening of his favorite superstar’s latest film. The theater owner, Mr. Rao (Ramesh Konambhotla), refuses to let that happen because he knows that these kinds of screenings go sideways if they don’t start on time or if the movie ends up being trashy. Ranga gets the local distributor, Swamy (Jwala Koti), to assure Rao about the punctuality of the screening and the quality of the film. Based on that, Rao agrees to let that screening happen. Preparations begin as usual. But when Seenu (Suhas), a local gangster and politician, shows up with 200 of his men to watch the movie, the stakes go up into the stratosphere.
Ranga initially doesn’t worry because he expects the code key (an OTP-like code that’s necessary to unlock the digital copy of the film before projecting it) to arrive on time and the screening to happen peacefully. However, as things get delayed by several hours, Seenu gives the ultimatum that if the film doesn’t start by 4 AM, he’s going to trash the theater. In an attempt to pay him off, Ranga gives up all his jewelry and tells him to leave the place. Seenu refuses and tells Ranga that since he’s so sure about the quality of the film, he’s going to give Ranga a deal. If the film is good, he’s going to buy all the tickets for the next three days. If the film is bad, Ranga has to do whatever Seenu wants him to do. Ranga agrees and regrets it later as the film turns out to be horrible. Seenu gets Ranga to tattoo an expletive on his back as punishment. A few weeks later, when Ranga finds out that the superstar has reunited with the producer of his latest flop project, he travels all the way to his house to demand “justice.”
Through “Benefit Show,” Tilak asks fans to watch a movie for what it is instead of investing their pride, reputation, and money into it. The love for a star is understandable. Supporting that star’s movie by watching it multiple times is logical. Recommending it to your family and friends is a very normal thing to do. But doing anything other than that is on you and not on the star. In every situation, when a person goes the extra mile to support someone, they harbor expectations to get something in return. In the case of a fan like Ranga, they expect their efforts to be seen by their favorite star. However, the sad reality of the fan-star dynamic is that the star isn’t even aware that this hardcore fan even exists. How could he? It’s impossible.
While the impracticality of this situation is obvious to people whose perspective isn’t clouded by their adoration for the star, it’s quite difficult for a fan to realize that a star owes them only an entertaining movie. Well, in this day and age, when films are being sold at insane prices before earning a single rupee at the box office, and they’re earning crores of rupees by selling the rights to the music, the star doesn’t even owe them a “good movie.” The star’s position is safe, while the distributors and theater owners, people who depend on daily earnings and don’t get a cut of the OTT and music rights purchases, feel the heavy repercussions of a film’s overall quality. Although the short film doesn’t state it explicitly, it does underscore the need for constructive criticism and discourse instead of mindless hype, which then leads to physical violence. Nobody needs to go to war for a movie. One needs to engage with it and be entertained. If they dislike it, they need to move on and watch something else. It’s not that complicated.
‘Anger Tales’ Episode 2: ‘Food Festival’ Recap & Ending Explained
Pooja (Madonna Sebastain) is married to Rajeev (Tharun Bhascker), and they live together with Rajeev’s mother in an apartment complex that’s “fully vegan.” Which means that no one in there can eat anything that’s synonymous with animals. No, not even honey, because the process exploits bees. But this practice is actively weakening Pooja, as she used to be a meat eater before marrying Rajeev. Since she is afraid to confront Rajeev or his mother about this issue, she secretly goes to restaurants and tries to eat an egg-based meal every day. However, her guilt and fear don’t allow her to do so.
When she does tell Rajeev about it, he puts her on some kind of Ayurvedic diet, which involves drinking a green, nauseating liquid. Pooja tries to improve her diet by smuggling eggs into the house. That plan fails when the apartment’s committee president gets a hold of the broken shells found around the building and requests that whoever is responsible for it to stop. Rajeev puts two and two together and holds Pooja accountable for breaching the laws of society and bringing non-vegan food into their “pious” house. In an act of rebellion, Pooja attends a meat-eating competition while Rajeev looks on with an expression of shock on his face.
“Food Festival” shows that veganism is essentially oppressive, casteist, and classist in nature. It’s a way of life that can be afforded by the affluent and those who are able-bodied. We can go round and round about the morality and ethics of veganism. But at the end of the day, we have to admit that no amount of plant-based protein can be a substitute for eggs. Although it’s not the focus of the story, Tilak illustrates how gated communities all over India segregate on the basis of one’s diet and shame those who are actually in need of meat or eggs. Even though Pooja literally needs to eat eggs or else she might die, neither her husband nor her mother-in-law is ready to make an exception because piety is more important than a person’s survival.
In addition to that, we see that Pooja’s unhealthy diet also stems from Rajeev’s habit of shaming her for eating as much as she needs to consume in order to be functional. The brilliantly edited montage is purposefully infuriating so that we understand that we shouldn’t compromise on our love for food because our “better half” is an idiot. We exist and earn to gain access to the food we want to have, maybe not on a daily basis, but at least occasionally. If anyone is stopping you from doing that, please get them out of your life and eat (while keeping your health in mind, of course).
‘Anger Tales’ Episode 3: ‘An Afternoon Nap’ Recap & Ending Explained
Radha (Bindu Madhavi) and Anand (Ravindra Vijay) are a couple who live on the ground floor of a two-storey house that’s owned by its landlord. They plan to move out of there because of the shoddy condition of the place. But everything is either too expensive, or the people who agreed to give them a place to live are backing out. So, they convey that information to the landlord and go about their daily routine, which basically involves Radha packing Anand’s tiffin, having a cup of coffee, cleaning the house, listening to songs on the radio, having her lunch, taking on sewing duties, taking a nap, having another cup of coffee, and preparing dinner as Anand returns home. However, that’s interrupted by the arrival of the landlord’s incredibly loud relatives. Anand says that since there’s a chance that the landlord can ask them to vacate the ground floor anytime for those relatives, they need to tread carefully.
Radha initially agrees to abide by this unwritten rule, but her medical condition, which doesn’t allow her to tolerate the noisy relatives of the landlord, gives her a migraine. This is only aggravated by Anand’s inability to shift to another house and by the woman who forces Radha to make dresses without paying her. After realizing that Anand doesn’t have her back, she records her laughter, locks up the landlord and her relatives, hooks up a massive speaker to that player, and plays it on full volume to torture those women as they tortured her every afternoon while she tried to nap. She even throws out the clothes without doing the necessary embroidery as a sign of protest. That said, things end tragically as the loud sound of the speaker collapses the building, seemingly killing Radha, the landlord, and the landlord’s relatives.
Despite its 36-minute-long runtime, “An Afternoon Nap” manages to tackle multiple topics such as rented houses, insensitive husbands, and internalized misogyny. Although we are apparently progressing as a species, the affordability of houses is decreasing every single minute. Those born with generational wealth rent out parts of their home and then bully the tenants because of their sense of entitlement. It’s no surprise that this feeling of superiority comes from their inherent classism because the landlord thinks that they’re rich enough to rent out their house, while the tenant is so poor that they can’t even own their personal space. Of course, there’s no need for this kind of discrimination and bullying, but there’s no peaceful way to teach such landlords a lesson. Hence, you see Radha doing something that almost every other tenant wants to do at some point in their lives.
Radha faces discrimination from her husband, who does it despite knowing that Radha has a medical condition. His superiority complex comes from the fact that he’s the earning member of the family. However, he has no respect for the fact that he has that job because Radha takes care of everything in the house. To ensure the smooth running of his not-so-high-paying job, he should’ve prioritized Radha’s well-being. Instead of doing so, he berated her for not staying silent about the issues she was facing. The lady who gets Radha to make dresses for her and her family for free underscores how both men and women like to undermine the value of homemakers. Everyone should understand that if they want something done for free, they should do it themselves. If they want someone else to do it, they should pay up. With all that said, the ending of the short is mean, as it shows that all this to-and-fro is self-destructive in nature and isn’t taking us closer to a solution.
‘Anger Tales’ Episode 4: ‘Helmet Head’ Recap & Ending Explained
Giri (Phani Acharya) is a sales executive at a private organization that sells apartments (I think). He lives with his great aunt (Sudha) and is close with his uncle (Ananth Babu). Both of them are hellbent on getting Giri married without considering the fact that he’s going to be humiliated by the prospective candidates for being bald. His friend and colleague is Ramu (Praveen Katari), and he doesn’t only help Giri with his professional woes; he also listens to the problems in his personal life. As if all that’s not enough, his penchant for not wearing a helmet has made him a regular customer of the traffic police.
Now, despite his debilitating self-esteem, he continues to do his job, faces rejection because of his baldness, and goes for job interviews that will allow him to earn more so that he can get an expensive hair transplant treatment. But one day, he loses his job. He has a massive argument with his relatives right in front of a girl and her family. He gets drunk, and when he becomes sober, he finds out that his beloved aunt has passed away. Since Giri’s aunt made him the nominee of her insurance claim of Rs. 2.5 lakh, he gets that money and uses it to get a hair transplant. However, that doesn’t solve anything because he still ends up being jobless, single, and rapt with guilt for using his aunt’s money so frivolously. When he learns that his balding could’ve been caused by wearing a helmet, he files a lawsuit against the government for forcing people to wear them.
In my opinion, “Helmet Head” critiques society’s penchant for shaming a person’s look, which has been impacted by something as natural and inevitable as balding. In addition to that, it shows how this can condition a bald person to think that’s the root of all their problems. We live in a time when people will go on record to say that traditional beauty is a thing of the past and we shouldn’t judge people by their looks. Instead, we should fall in love with their personalities. But how much of that do we see in real life? Well, not as much as we see on social media because real life comes with repercussions, and the virtual world doesn’t. So, either we should be honest about our superficiality, or we should learn how to look beyond the outer appearance of a person and truly admire them for who they are on the inside.
As for the person who is a victim of male pattern baldness, there’s no doubt that it’s an unfortunate thing to go through. It’s understandable to feel helpless because you can’t naturally control your receding hairline. But that doesn’t mean you have to vent your frustration on people who actually love you for who you are. More importantly, attributing your life’s issues to baldness while not having an acceptable personality or any real skills is wrong as well. It’s better to accept that as a part of your physical image and work on things that don’t involve the top of your head. Or else you’ll end up fighting against helmets (something that’s designed to protect you) and lose that head of yours to a traffic accident.
“Anger Tales” is an impeccably crafted set of stories that speak to us in a simple and hard-hitting way. Every single one of these episodes looks amazing. The cinematography, editing, sound design, production design, and background score combine to create an engaging viewing experience. The performances from the central cast, as well as the supporting actors, are worthy of all the applause in the world. I recommend watching the whole thing. In case you aren’t aware of the topics that have been highlighted here, you’ll find yourself getting a free education on them. I think, qualitatively speaking, all of the shorts in the anthology are great. But, if I have to pick a favorite, I’ll go for “Benefit Show” because it showcases an aspect of the entertainment industry that isn’t treated in a nuanced fashion. In conclusion, although I’m not sure if there are plans to make more “Anger Tales,” I’d love to see more stories like this.