Pagglait is About a Woman Who Dared to be Crazy — The Flicker Flick
Pagglait is About a Woman Who Dared to be Crazy
I wasn’t particularly excited about Umesh Bist’s . It is because there was an opinion that it was just a retelling of the movie Queen. They had just switched to a dead husband from an estranged spouse. However, after watching this Netflix movie, I realized the depth of acting, writing, and messages hidden in it. The film has a long list of established actors that include Ashutosh Rana, Sanya Malhotra, Sheeba Chadda, etc. The story revolves around the death of Astik, Sandhya’s (Sanya Malhotra) husband, and the 13 days of mourning that follow. It documents the life of a woman during such a period. She finally breaks free of her cocoon. She makes a decision about her own life rather than letting others dictate hers. There is some life after death.
We see a helpless father who finds it hard to hold himself and his family without the support of his able son; a sobbing mother still finding it hard to accept the truth of her son’s died. However, we also see a nonchalant widow who has never received the love of her husband. Forgive her, if she finds it hard to feel an extreme form of grief. It is hard for Sandhya to grieve for her husband because he was a stranger to her.
The husband died after five months of marriage. He was still in love with his ex and found it hard to accept this arranged marriage, just like Sandhya. The idea that a woman, who has been married off to a stranger, should cry her eyes out within five months of marriage seems absurd. Sandhya is however hungry and sleepy, confused and doubtful of where she actually fits in this whole dynamic.
The film’s specialty lies in its realistic portrayal of Indian Middle-class families — the scheming, manipulation, and control that often hide behind the façade of family love. We are never introduced to Astik. There are no flashbacks or even a picture. However, it doesn’t affect the film because it is not about him. Pagglait is about a lot of women in India who never gets a chance to make important decisions of their life. They are seen as liabilities waiting to be married to be dependent on the male. It also shows how the education qualification of women is used as a good bargaining chip for marriage rather than furthering a woman’s career.
The film though starts strong, doesn’t flesh out the emotions enough. In one of the pivotal scenes of the film, Sandhya’s interaction with Astik’s ex, which helps her break out of her cocoon, is very surface-level. It seems almost magical how she transformed. At one point the ex said I wish you could have known him better to pass judgment on him. Sandhya then tries to understand her husband and maybe grow affectionate. But we are never introduced to how Astik was. This reduces the believability of the transformation of Sandhya. Nevertheless, it is as effective.
Sanya Malhotra is a very decent actor and plays Sandhya with empathy and charm. The film can become easily predictable and the soundtrack, even though amazing, doesn’t quite fit the scenes. The film is slow throughout, filled with light drama and emotions.
However, Pagglait reminds us how a woman’s agency and desires are frowned upon in society. If they attempt to break free of the shackles, they are demonized and called crazy. So does Sandhya eventually notes: “When women get wise, everyone calls them mad ( Pagglait)”.
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Originally published at https://flickerflick.org on March 28, 2021.