Writer-Director: Umesh Bist
Cast: Sanya Malhotra, Ashutosh Rana, Sheeba Chaddha, Sayani Gupta
Streaming on: Netflix
Pagglait is a story of Sandhya Giri (Sanya Malhotra, such a sorted actor), who is widowed soon after marriage and is unable to grieve the demise of her husband. Reason for it which 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 mourning period of 13 days. She is surrounded by quirky relatives who are grieving on the face but are sneakily trying to fulfill their own selfish needs.
The setting and characters of the film are not new to you except its lead Sandhya. You have seen these people around you if you’ve spent time in small town India. The actors cast for these roles are also the usual suspects. There’s Raghubir Yadav, Rajesh Tailang, and Sheeba Chaddha. The surprise in casting is Ashutosh Rana who plays a passive father-in-law of Sandhya. Have never seen Rana portraying 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 performance in Ritesh Batra’s Photograph (2019) where she played a girl who is almost quiet throughout the film. Here, she has a spark that is ignited after she finds out about her late husband’s past. She has lived a life which was decided for her by her parents and in-laws, and by society in the larger context. Women were expected to be passive, submissive, which still remains a reality in small towns and rural regions.
Pagglait means a foolish girl. Sandhya says, “Jab ladki log ko akal aati hai na, tab sab unko Pagglait hee kehte hain”. Writer-director Umesh Bist creates a world which we are familiar with, with a twist. There’s not much of a plot. Nor is it really a character driven film. Sandhya is not that strong a character either. But you’re invested in her to know her inner conflict. The story spans across 13 days of mourning the demise.
Watch Pagglait trailer:
While the mourning continues, the extended family is trying to settle their own financial issues, trying to marry Sandhya off to someone else, while Sandhya’s parents don’t want her back as there are two more daughters at home to marry off. But soon, they come to know that Sandhya will be getting rupees 50 lakh as insurance money after her husband’s death. Everyone’s attitude towards Sandhya changes, including her parents’. In these 13 days Sandhya discovers herself and takes probably the biggest step in her life. She takes her own decision.
Pagglait moves at a meandering pace which suits the melancholic mourning period it is set in. But at times, it becomes tad boring. It demands your attention and patience. Would suggest you give that attention and patience and check it out. Pagglait is streaming on Netflix.