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Sanya Malhotra slips into the character of Sandhya like second skin, essaying it with beautiful precision, the love, the pain, the grief, the courage.
Ever since its trailer released on Netflix, I had been eagerly waiting for the Umesh Bist directed movie ‘Pagglait’ to start streaming. The trailer had promised an unusual storyline coupled with an interesting cocktail of humour and drama. So, I, for one, was curious to see if it could live up to the monumental expectations it had set.
Pagglait delivers everything it promises and more. Set against the backdrop of the 13-day mourning rituals following a family member’s demise, it exposes existing stereotypes of grief expression. It traces a young woman, Sandhya’s (Sanya Malhotra) journey, as she struggles (or rather doesn’t) to come to terms with her husband’s demise 5 months into her marriage.
Primitive societal constructs expect us to mourn a loved one’s death with endless tears or soul-crushing howls of pain, or even extended periods of utter silence. Because that is normal behavior, bench-marked as ‘natural’, or expected from a grief-stricken person. Anything other than that is considered aberrant, illustrated beautifully through Sandhya’s story.
Sandhya seems incapable of experiencing pain at her husband’s ill-timed death. In fact, when her friend, Nazia (Shruti Sharma), lands at her in-laws’ doorstep upon learning about it through a Facebook post, the first thing that Sandhya blurts out to her is – there were 235 comments on that post. She doesn’t stop at that, and nonchalantly goes on to instruct a family member to “get a Pepsi and chips.”
This behavior uncharacteristic of a seemingly grieving person, leaves Nazia and the host of other relatives completely bewildered.
Consequently, Sandhya meets with the same fate as any other person who exhibits ‘unnatural’ behavior (read: behavior that defies pre-determined societal norms). Her experiences are likened to someone suffering from PTSD. She is branded as ‘crazy’ or ‘pagglait’.
Through the exploration of Sandhya’s character, it is revealed that her inability to experience pain was a result of the nature of their marriage, one utterly bankrupt of communication or intimacy. Not only was her husband emotionally unavailable, but he was also in love with another woman, a secret she unwittingly finds out long after he is gone. A secret – preserved between the yellowed pages of his documents – in the form of a photograph.
It is the first time we see pain register in her eyes, followed by indignation and then anger; the first time we see her begin to process her husband’s death or the fact that her husband had a whole other life outside of her, one she wasn’t privy to.
She is almost immediately consumed by the intense longing to meet her husband’s lover, even if only to get to know him through his lover’s lens. And when she does finally meet Aakansha (Sayani Gupta), we see a rare, almost incomprehensible bond develop between the two.
Surprisingly, the story-line is infused with generous doses of humor, the melancholic nature of its subject matter notwithstanding. Another noteworthy aspect of the movie is how the character of Astik Giri, the husband of Sandhya, is relegated to a mere ‘name’. Even though his character is central to the story-line, not once is he seen throughout the movie.
The narrative plays in subtleties. There are no overt or loud moments portraying moments of truth. Instead it throws light on the regressive, hypocritical rituals plaguing our society in quiet, inconspicuous moments like the one where Astik’s brother who was asked to avoid alcohol and tobacco in the 13 days of mourning catches his own uncle drinking. Similarly, in another scene, when the house help gets tea for Nazia in a ‘separate’ cup, it seems almost innocuous and might have gone unnoticed, had Sandhya not called her out.
The narrative is propelled forward by compelling performances by the cast. Sheeba Chadda and Ashutosh Rana as the grieving parents of Astik are convincing and bring about a certain depth to the story-line. But, Sanya Malhotra’s Sandhya takes the cake away. She slips into the character of Sandhya like second skin, essaying it with beautiful precision.
There is this one line that Sandhya says that sums up the movie in its entirety – ‘Jab ladki log ko akkal aati hai na, toh sab unko pagglait hi kehte hai’ which roughly translates to ‘when women become wise, the world calls them crazy.’
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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing. read more...
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Before expecting the daughter in law to love, respect and accept the new family, it is only fair that the family demonstrates all of these first.
If you are a married Indian woman, one of the first words you hear from your in laws is that you are now a daughter of the house. How true is that statement though? Are daughters in law really treated as daughters or is this only lip service?
A friend recently confided how hurt she felt when she wanted to visit her in-laws along with her husband but was told not to, because the in-laws wanted time alone with their son. Naturally, she was taken aback since she had always been fed this trope – that she was the daughter, not the daughter in law. Why then this sudden keeping at arm’s distance? Would a son in law ever be told not to accompany his wife on her visit to her parents because they wanted quality time with their daughter? That is unimaginable in a patriarchal society.
It is ok to want time alone with the married offspring but how does that meld into the Indian family system, where independent choices are less important than the whole family coming together?
My husband returns home tired after working & travelling. I, like other working women, return home refreshed after enjoying full day at office!
I am a working woman and mother of a 2 year old daughter. People say I am irresponsible and lazy because I have a house-help.
Yes, I’m irresponsible and don’t have any work. Except checking what groceries needs to be refilled and ordering them for home delivery, washing my and my husband’s clothes, drying and folding them, getting the work-wear clothes ironed, keeping clothes in place, cleaning bathrooms and toilets, changing bedsheets, dusting windows occasionally, hand washing my daughter’s soiled clothes in hot water, bathing my daughter twice, feeding my daughter breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Rest other work like cooking and house cleaning done by the house-help and my husband takes care of getting fruits and vegetables from the market every week. So I don’t have any work except those few mentioned earlier.
Pagglait takes a commonplace tragedy and, through the power of its storytelling, elevates it into anything but common
Pagglait takes a commonplace tragedy and, through the power of its storytelling, elevates it into anything but common.
Let’s start at the very beginning: the title. Pagglait. Craziness. Way out of the realm of ordinary, expected behaviours comes this little gem of a film about an ordinary, expected world.
The narrative wastes no time at all in depositing us, the viewers, into the heart of Shanti Kunj, a pre-Independence era home in a Lucknow by-lane, in today’s time. Like true Indian guests with few boundaries and a visit-anytime ethos, we walk right into a bereavement.
After watching Sanya Malhotra's Pagglait, I realised that it had lessons too! So here is a zara hatke life lesson filled review for you!
After watching Sanya Malhotra’s Pagglait, I realised that it had lessons too! So here is a zara hatke life lesson filled review for you!
I watched Pagglait. After watching the trailer, I had liked it. There was something about Sanya’s expressive eyes that drew me towards the movie.
Overall, the movie was enjoyable. Well, as a viewer, I did feel the script losing its substance at some point. (This happens when an overzealous scriptwriter tries to coax a paper-thin storyline to handle too many issues)