Pagglait: Not a tale of loss but a journey of self discovery
New Delhi: Death of a character working as a catalyst to bring a whole bunch of family members together under a single roof has been an interesting and versatile plot which can take any turn and can be shown through different angles. Pagglait chooses to emphasise on the life of a young widow Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra).
The movie starts with the funeral of a young man, Astik Giri. The family members are mourning while the big old haveli they live in is sprawled in by the relatives. The widow of the said man, however, is lying in her room and scrolling through Facebook to look at the comments on the post about her husband’s death. She feels no grief and is craving spicy chips and soda! The movie covers the period between the cremation of Astik and his tehrvi.
The movie is a satire on how our society expects a young woman to feel and behave in a certain way after losing her husband, the worst thing that could happen to her. In the opening scene, one of the relatives (Meghna Malik) can be seen saying, “No, she isn’t Manglik, their horoscopes were matched before the marriage,” while talking to someone on phone. Just a subtle reflection of our society’s obsession of finding a way to blame everything on a woman, even today!
It is the story of Sandhya, a young smart woman with an MA in English who was never given a chance to make choices for herself. She may have a master’s degree but it’s only worth was to find her a good husband, a husband she never knew before and was chosen by her parents for her.
Perhaps, the fate of a lot of young women in Indian society. She has never experienced love in her life, not even during the short span of her marriage. Now that her husband is gone, the clouds of confusion remain over her head about the lack of any sort of grief.
Within a couple of days of her husband's death, relatives, especially men in the family start to speak for her and make decisions for her because our society has put the entire responsibility of controlling a young woman’s life on these men’s soldiers, especially if she is struck with such a tragedy. The sad part is that the only thing they seem to be concerned about is her remarriage, because what is a woman’s life if she isn’t married, right?
The plot takes a turn when it is discovered that Sandhya’s husband has left an insurance of Rs 50 lakh in her name. Now, her mother suddenly wants her to have a second chance at a fresh start of her life while the in-laws, again, the men in the family try to get that money. She even gets a marriage proposal by the cousin of her dead husband before his last rites. Her worth suddenly changes in everybody’s eyes as soon as she owns a lump of money!
The movie plays a commentary on the importance of the financial independence of women from there on. The agency a woman gets over her life when she is financially sound enough to look after herself is what scares our society. The importance of the capability of taking control of your own life as a woman is emphasised upon through Sandhya's journey of self-discovery. What is supposed to be the biggest tragedy of her life ironically becomes the best thing that could happen to her as she finally decides to take charge of her life in her own hands.
Coming to performances, the ensemble cast of the movie is phenomenal, especially Sheeba Chaddha and Ashutosh Rana as grieving parents will just steal your heart. Sanya Malhotra takes the centre stage here and shines! The universe of the movie, the language, costume and set design, everything is believable and does its part in contributing to the final product.
The characters, however micro or macro, are well outlined and relatable. I am sure you must have encountered the relatives in the movie in real life around you. The movie, as a whole, is a comedic social commentary that deserves your eye for what it is trying to deliver and why it is required and relevant today.