Filmmakers have been thriving on a plethora of female-centric content, the most recent being “Pagglait,” produced by Balaji Motion Pictures and Sikhya Entertainment, streaming on Netflix.
When a young woman Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra) loses her husband Astik just five months after their wedding, she is faced with the longstanding rituals and expectations of how a recent widow should behave, all while grappling with the realization that she’s not as upset as one would be in her situation. If that’s not enough, she stumbles upon a dark secret her husband was hiding, leaving Sandhya feeling angry and betrayed by Astik. But this gives her the push she needs to reevaluate her life and prioritize her needs and desires.
Sandhya’s journey from confusion about how she should be reacting to her husband’s untimely demise to eventually accepting it and wanting to move on shows her inadvertently progressing through the various stages of grief – denial, anger, acceptance, and hope. This subtle characteristic of the movie is thoughtfully captured through Umesh Bist’s vision as a director, Rafey Mehmood’s cinematography, and Sanya Malhotra’s impressive acting.
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With Malhotra in the lead role, the film has an exceptionally talented cast including Ashutosh Rana, Raghubir Yadav (‘Panchayat’), Rajesh Tailang & Sheeba Chaddha (‘Mirzapur,’ ‘Bandish Bandits’), Aasif Khan (‘Paatal Lok,’ ‘Mirzapur’) and special appearances by Sayani Gupta (‘Four More Shots Please’) and Sharib Hashmi (‘The Family Man,’ ‘Scam 1992’). Each actor is true to their character and has an impactful presence in the film.
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“Pagglait,” however, falls short on the storyline. The film starts strong by bringing to light some of the orthodox customs in Indian society. While the idea is to show how Sandhya breaks free from some of those customs that restrict her freedom of choice, the film derails from the main plot, shifting focus to an issue (Astik’s secret) that could have very well been left out of the film altogether. From there, the film goes off on tangential sub-plots and tries to cover one too many social issues. Sayani Gupta’s character is self-contradictory because on one hand she is shown as a well-educated, independent woman earning and living on her own, and on the other hand she states she couldn’t marry the love of her life/college sweetheart because her family didn’t agree. Not exactly the ‘empowered woman’ she’s made out to be, is she?
In the end, the film eventually comes through when Sandhya decides to choose for herself, but until then the story seems to be a bit all over the place and doesn’t quite meet the expectations set by the trailer of being a comedy-drama film.
Watched it. Liked it. Did not however love it.
Consultant by day and professional dancer on weekends, Neha loves going to the movies and has a not-so-secret crush on Hrithik Roshan!