Pagglait REVIEW: Sanya Malhotra starrer despite being novel is heavy-handed and loses steam
Guneet Monga, Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor
Sanya Malhotra, Shruti Sharma, Ashutosh Rana, Sheeba Chaddha, Shruti Sharma, Rajesh Tailang, Sayani Gupta, Jameel Khan
Bollywood Bubble Rating
‘Pagglait,’ often used as a slang in North India for ‘pagal’ (mad) is about a newly married woman who lost her husband within six months. The story chronicles around her and her husband’s family members who live in an old house in Uttar Pradesh, even as the town does not get any mention throughout the story. The aftermath of sudden death in a family is what forms the premise of Pagglait where relatives chitter-chatter and subtle questions are raised. ‘Was the girl manglik’ comes first followed by concerns about how the new bahu Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra) is dealing with the loss. Is she crying, if not, what’s wrong?
Much to everyone’s shock, including her parents, Sandhya isn’t weeping as one would perhaps expect a newly wedded wife to upon losing her husband. Instead, she craves pepsi over tea and demands a packet of chips as she checks out social media updates and keeps a tab on how many likes the post has got. It unsettles everyone in the family but drives a subtle laugh from the audience who wonder ‘what’s wrong with Sandhya? Why is she so detached?’. Her parents, especially her mother even performs a prayer to remove the ‘evil eye’ on her daughter which she claims is the reason behind her ‘abnormal’ behaviour. Sandhya, however, gets interested in knowing her husband more when she comes face to face with one of his colleagues Akansha, who was smart and independent, and someone connected to his past.
After meeting Akansha, Sandhya wonders if she even knew her husband at all. While at it, there is this self-realization of not putting herself first. There is a certain resentment she feels about not pursuing her dream to be independent, which is relatable to most. On the other hand, there is a family politics of its own going on parallel.
What works for Pagglait
Politics in grief is not new, but Guneet Monga gives it a subtle touch with Pagglait. There is Rajesh Tailang who speaks about ‘leaving family Whatsapp groups’ as soon as he enters the frame. Even with little to do, Rajesh leaves a mark. There is also Jameel Khan who keeps quoting Shakespeare in any given situation but all these are few.
What could have been better?
Ashutosh Rana and Sheeba Chaddha as grief-stricken parents are terrific but very little to do. Sanya is good in parts that demand her being detached but we wished more was said via her body language as well. The film also touches on the deep ingrained restrain of older generations when it comes to a Hindu household when it comes to religions. When Naziya (Shruti Sharma) enters the house, you see a pause before they welcome a stranger, a Muslim, inside the house. Guneet has dabbled with these with sensitivity and subtleness but we wished there were more. It soon loses steam. The story seems to tell us what we are seeing already which becomes tiresome. Despite being a novel, it fails to leave the desired impact because of being heavy-handed.
Pagglait is currently streaming on Netflix.
Check out the trailer of Pagglait below: