Available on: Netflix
"Ladki logon ke liye puri duniya sochti haan, bas yeh nahin puchte ki woh kya soch rahi hain," Sandhya's (Sanya Malhotra) resounding words is an unscathing comment on the hypocrisy of the society that still develops a cold feet when a woman decides to take over the reins of her own life.
A bereaved woman, a hidden secret and a series of life-altering situations, Sanya Malhotra's latest film Pagglait is a tale of a woman's quirky journey to discover herself after a tragedy. Does it manage to warm the cockles of your hearts? Let's find out in our review for the film.
What's Yay: Performances, Story
What's Nay: The sluggish pace of the narrative in a few portions
Pagglait opens with the shot of a cycle seat adjusting itself to the movements of a man's hips. We are then introduced to Shanti Niwas, the inhabitants of which are mourning the loss of a family member, Astik. The deceased man's wife Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra), on the other hand, is busy scrolling through the comments on her husband's death post on her Facebook page in her room.
When her bestie Nazia (Shruti Sharma) lands at her marital house for a few days, Sandhya confides in her, "Bilkul rona nahin aa rahaan hain yaar aur bhuk bhi kaske lag rahin hai." From craving for some Pepsi and masala chips to sneaking out to gorge some 'golgappas', Sandhya has other things on her mind while her family members come together for 13 days of mourning.
Be it the catty bua (Ananya Khare), the instruction-shouting tauji (Raghubir Yadav), the chacha (Rajesh Tailang) or another relative who quotes Shakespeare and attributes Sandhya's strange behaviour to PTSD, each one of them have their own reasons to be present at Shanti Niwas.
However, when Sandhya stumbles upon a hidden secret of her deceased husband, the girl finds herself questioning her own beliefs and realizing that she has got to take some hard decisions which might change her life forever.
Umesh Bist's Pagglait is a strong commentary on the mansplaining and the patriarchal nature of the society which still finds it difficult to digest the fact that a woman can also have her own 'voice'. With dialogues laced with humour and brutal truth, the filmmaker gets his basics right. This is one of the few films which gives a closer-to-life representation of death in a family.
On the flipside, the writing gets sluggish at places especially which distracts you for a bit. Further, on focusing on issues of women's emancipation, the narrative wobbles a bit.
Sanya Malhotra is the star performer of Pagglait. As a free-spirited woman who is confused how to deal with the repercussions of her husband's secret, the young actress delivers a layered performance that seeps deep into your heart, one scene at a time. Watch out for the sequence when she meets Akanksha (Sayani Gupta) for the first time.
Ashutosh Rana and Sheeba Chaddha as bereaved parents who are still trying to cope with their son's untimely demise, leave you with a moist-eye or a two. The rest of the cast including Shruti Sharma, Raghubir Yadav, Ananya Khare and others lend a strong support to the film.
Rafey Mahmood's camerawork is top-notch and gives a depth to the storytelling. Prerna Saigal's editing keeps the film tightly-knit.
Raja Kumari and Amrita Singh's track 'Pagal' stands out in the film and delivers the feels. The rest of the songs flow well with the narrative but lack a recall value.
"Jab ladki logo ko akal aati hai na, toh sab unhe Pagglait hi kehte hai!" quips Sanya Malhotra's character Sandhya when realization finally dawns upon her as she sets out to find her true calling. Umesh Bist's Pagglait has its set of crazy moments, but its heart is at the right place.
We give 3 stars out of 5 to Sanya Malhotra-starrer Pagglait.