Author-director: Umesh bist
Occupation: Sanya Malhotra, Ashutosh Rana, Sheeba Chaddha and Sayani Gupta
Streaming on: Netflix
Pagglait is a story of Sandhya Giri (Sanya Malhotra, such a stocked actress), who is widowed shortly after marriage and unable to mourn the death of her husband. The reason she soon realizes is that there was no love between the two. She also discovers a startling truth about her late husband. Sandhya is in her own zone during the 13 days of mourning. She is surrounded by bizarre relatives who grieve on their faces but secretly try to meet their own selfish needs.
The set and characters in the film are nothing new to you, except for lead actor Sandhya. You have seen these people around you if you’ve spent time in a small town in India. The actors cast for these roles are also the usual suspects. There is Raghubir Yadav, Rajesh Tailang, and Sheeba Chaddha. The surprise at the casting is Ashutosh Rana, who plays a passive father-in-law of Sandhya. I’ve never seen Rana portray such a helpless, sensitive and vulnerable character. Sheeba Chaddha is always in her element.
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Sanya Malhotra plays Sandhya to perfection – from body language to voice modulation. Recalled her appearance in Ritesh Batra’s Photograph (2019), where she played a girl who is almost calm throughout the film. Here she has a spark that is ignited after learning of her late husband’s past. She has led a life chosen for her by her parents and in-laws, and by society at large. Women were expected to be passive and submissive, which is still a reality in small towns and rural areas.
Pagglait means a stupid girl. Sandhya says: “Jab ladki log ko akal aati hai na, tab sab unko Pagglait hee kehte hain”. Writer and director Umesh Bist creates a world we’re familiar with with a twist. There isn’t much of a conspiracy. It’s not a really characterful film either. Sandhya is not such a strong character either. But you are invested in her to know her inner conflict. The story spans 13 days of mourning death.
Watch the Pagglait trailer:
As the grief continues, the extended family tries to resolve their own financial problems and marry Sandhya off to someone else, while Sandhya’s parents do not want her back as two more daughters are at home to get married. But soon they learn that after the death of her husband, Sandhya will receive 50 lakh rupees as insurance money. Everyone’s attitude towards Sandhya is changing, including that of their parents. In those 13 days, Sandhya discovers herself and probably takes the biggest step in her life. She makes her own decision.
Pagglait moves at a meandering tempo that corresponds to the melancholy period of mourning in which it finds itself. But sometimes it gets a little boring. It requires your attention and patience. Would suggest you give that attention and patience and check it out. Pagglait is streamed on Netflix.