From her debut in Dangal, Sanya Malhotra has been doing fine films like Badhaai Ho, Shakuntala Devi and now Pagglait. She is the protagonist in Pagglait (2021), a Hindi comedy-drama about how a young widow processes the death of her husband just after five-months of their marriage. How different members in the extended family process the death of the 27-year old young man is explored with a thread of humour and selfishness. The film that gets a Mangoidiots rating of ‘Ripe’ is a must-watch film and is available on Netflix.
The story happens in a joint family in Lucknow. The interiors of the joined family house were not rich, but colourful and nice. In films, to show extended family interacting and bonding it becomes difficult in an apartment atmosphere, whereas the old houses like the one shown suits perfectly.
Astik, a young man, the earning member of the family and a new bridegroom is dead – we are neither shown his picture nor told the cause of his death – and that was immaterial for the story and deftly left out by Director Umesh Bist – a nice touch too. The family members (some grudgingly) are gathered under one roof for nearly two weeks (13 days) time for the rituals to happen – during that time old wounds are kindled, new friendships formed, some misgivings forgiven and new ones get formed. Add to the mix is the large insurance money after which the behaviour of Sandhya’s own mother changes.
There is a one-minute story on the significance of immersing the ashes of the dead in the Holy Ganga. Even the worst (who did horrible things) person if his/her ashes or a piece of a bone gets immersed in River Ganga his sins gets washed away.
The expression on the heroine’s friend Nazia when Sandhya goes out to eat Golgappas while cursing her late husband (due to her failing to convince her friend otherwise) was priceless. The scene when Sandhya confronts her late husband’s colleague when she visits the family to pay her respects was direct and had sharp dialogues – a rarity in Indian films. There was another dialogue by a different set of characters which good too: “Those who say they studied under lamp post end up in politics as they are all pathological liars!”.
This is not your regular Bollywood masala, but a film to take in every frame, ponder about the happenings and remember for a long time. The climax was on expected lines, yet was interesting as it was a bit witty and appropriate for the story.