Pagglait Review: A Powerful, Poignant Story Ruined by Lousy Direction

Whoever thought of the core story, the concept of Pagglait, EXCELLENT JOB! 

Whoever executed it: Dude, you ruined a fantastic story. 

So why am I extremely happy yet unhappy about this latest Netflix Original, Pagglait? Because, in India, we rarely come across such out-of-the-box ideas when it comes to mainstream cinema. Our plots for commercial films are fixed – thodasa romance, thodisi fight, bahut saare gaane, and they are sorted! 

I guess this is exactly why Pagglait made it to the web and not theatres – because, it was different. 

This film could have easily made it to the Queen (the film) category. Remember how we all fell in love with Queen because it didn’t revolve around love and heartbreak? How a girl’s journey of self-discovery and self-love moved us back then? Pagglait could have been another film that touches your heart and then liberates you. Though I am talking about Queen, all I am trying to say here is, the story was that beautiful, that powerful. 

What’s Pagglait all about? 

Before we begin, let me tell you this. The name and trailer of the film, both were misleading. The film isn’t a comedy. I wonder what made the team promote it as a comedy film. 

Pagglait revolves around the sudden death of 28-year old Astik, Sandhya’s husband. Since the marriage was merely 5-month old, Sandhya finds it difficult to mourn Astik’s death. The reason is simple. It was an arranged marriage and the couple never connected well with each other. They just lived together. As the story progresses, Sandhya gets to know that her husband wasn’t an unromantic man, but it was her marriage that was loveless. She then connects with his girlfriend to understand her husband better. Reason? She wants to know what to miss in life after his absence, as Astik’s death is as good as a stranger’s death for her; to be able to connect with the man, so that she could justify the label of being his wife in front of society. This again was a complex emotion which the Director either didn’t understand or could not show on screen. The scenes and also, communication between Sandhya, and Astik’s girlfriend, Ananya was not just emotionless but also meaningless. It lacked the very depth that it needed. 

Similarly, when in the process of getting to understand her late husband, Astik, Sandhya figures out what was wrong in her own life and how she should take control of it from hereon was the beauty of the film. Unfortunately, this side of the story never blossomed. 

The Director has simply followed the script page to page. He forgot to add emotions to it. He ignored the very scenes that needed his attention to make Pagglait a remarkable film. He read the emotional and mental complexities of the protagonist in the script but failed to bring them to life on the screen which is why you could sense them but not feel them. 

Let us do a quick character sketch here so you understand my point of view better. 

Sandhya is a young girl whose life is controlled by her mother. The girl, though educated, has no say in her own life. Though she has the brain of her own, she has no voice. She is capable but yet the prisoner of her circumstances. When caught off-guard, she doesn’t know how to react because maybe she was still coping with the dilemma called, ‘Marriage.’ When she finds herself with a man for whom Sandhya just exists, she thinks that this is how marriages are. Like herself, her husband also doesn’t know how to love. 

She convinces herself that maybe this is how it is – love starts and ends in college. Unfortunately, she didn’t experience love even in college and hence she thinks her chance is lost. After she realizes that her husband was in love but with another woman, not her, she starts craving love. Maybe when with Astik, love is what she longed for, but couldn’t voice her feelings. 

After she gets a hold of herself, she starts looking around. She starts noticing the drama that is unfolding in the family after her husband’s death and how Astik’s parents, the only people who are truly affected by his death are handling all of it single-handedly. She then takes charge of things and starts to untie the complicated knots. At the same time, the tragedy that she has been living for around 5 months, and then after Astik’s death, is transforming her. Sandhya not just finds her voice but also starts to take a stand – for a friend, Nazia, for her in-laws, and for herself. 

The character that goes through so much in such a short time period and yet handles everything with utmost care is not insane for not crying over her husband’s death for sure. She cannot go mad at any point in time in her life. The way she picks up the pieces, gathers herself in no time and rebuilds her life is, undoubtedly, an amazingly strong woman. 

Unfortunately, the makers couldn’t understand which part of the story to focus on – relatives, Astik’s death and the rituals, grief, or to put it all together and give it a tadka of comedy. Forget about Sandhya’s transformation, with the kind of ending this movie has, they should have at least had a few more scenes between Sandhya and in-laws that would have gotten the audience involved in the bond that they develop. The movie demands no emotional or mental involvement from its audience. That is where they lost us, the audience.  

Where to Watch? Netflix

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