Pagglait… nahi hu!

Pagglait | Sanya Malhotra

So, I just happened to watch Umesh Bist directed movie, Pagglait on Netflix yesterday, and those of you who haven’t yet watched it, please pause all your series and work, and spare 2hours from your schedule and watch it first thing!

Sanya Malhotra would stay in my heart for a good time now, not just for the brilliant acting she’s delivered in the movie, but also kudos to her for the extremely strong character she’d dared to play.

This movie is so much of truth and reality checks, that nothing much better could have come out of it.

With the entire movie revolving around Astik, Sandhya’s (played by Sanya Malhotra) husband, the movie is still not about him.

The aftermath of Astik’s death is more talked about than this absence in the lives of his parents, wife, and close ones.

This movie had touched so many angles of emotions and human behavior that only if one doesn’t shy away from accepting the practicality of the situations shown, solely would be able to understand it.

Pagglait | Sanya Malhotra

Sandhya (by Sanya Malhotra):

Sandhya breaks the traditional process of grieving over the death of her husband who she had been married to for 5months only. Her not-mourning over the loss had already started raising eyebrows in the family with whispers around the house started doing rounds of her being hit by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

She is seen calm and distracted at the beginning of the movie with no clue of what just happened in her life. Death does not evoke an all-consuming sadness in everyone,

The young widow is not only unable to come to terms with the harsh truth but equally fails to give reactions as expected from the family and other relatives of her.

She remains stoic, poised, and dynamic throughout the movie telling people that though things would take time but would soon be fine. She checks on Facebook for updates where people flow in comments posting RIP messages for her husband.

Gradually a series of behavioral changes are seen in her with the movie progressing, unveiling the layers of her dormant emotions. The immense bawling and crying of family members in the house doesn’t bother or disturb her while she struggles alone to find answers for all the questions popping in her mind, with nobody to help her solve.

The good girl as Sandhya is shown in the movie, belongs to one of those middle-class Indian families where wearing gemstones for good marks and a calm mind is a common sight, where having a beautiful, fair, spotless face with lady-like features is a must, where girls are taught to study hard and excel until they find a good suitor for an arranged marriage, where getting married transforms the entire expectations and demands of the parents for whom the only objective and motive changes overnight to see their daughters happily running a home with a husband, in-laws, and kids- truth be told!

Her being an MA in English, thus became a qualification for matrimony only.

A very strong line in the movie which goes- “Ladkio ke liye puri duniya sochti hai, bass ye koi nahi puchte ki wo kya soch rahe hai…” (the world thinks about women, but nobody just finds it important enough to ask them what they’re thinking)

Sandhya says this when she realizes the fact that her entire life till date had been only a dictated story which she had been enacting upon, as and when bestowed on her by the people in her life, be it for her education, her marriage, her life after marriage, her future post her husband’s death and so on, thereby letting go off so many of her dreams because she had given the authority to people who took decisions on her behalf.

The silent and resilient Sandhya, finally takes charge of her life with no further unnecessary intervention of others and chooses to live her life, live her dreams, fulfill her aspirations, fight the world, get a job and just not choose to be a mere object of pity, condolence and sympathy as she delivers another dialogue with utter self-confidence- “Ladki ko jab akal aati hai, to sab unhe pagglait hi bolte hai…” (when a woman starts rationalizing, people end up calling her insane)

Sanya’s character wins hearts with her decision of not accepting what people served on her plate of the Do’s and Don’ts, breaking the normal protocol of the modus operandi, but also, when she just didn’t reluctantly and blatantly shed off responsibilities and commitments, leaving her in-laws behind to manage and be on their own, with her new life planned ahead of her,

Sandhya, who had been married to Astik in an arranged manner, set up by the respective families, loses her husband in a span of 5months, is seen to be chaotically disturbed, because she doesn’t understand whom should she be angry with, her husband who seldom spoke to her occasionally, or her parents who fixed her match with a guy earning 70,000/- per month, or herself for not being able to fathom the love of a generous husband, or her fate which took away all her happiness with a blink of an eye or death, which is the inevitable truth that turned her world and life upside down in a day!

Pagglait | Ashutosh Rana | Sheeba Chaddha

Astik’s parents (by Ashutosh Rana & Sheeba Chaddha)

Struck hard by the death of their eldest son, Astik, who was 29years old and newly married, have landed themselves amidst mixed emotions and distraught.

The demise of a family member is grieved, but the demise of the only breadwinner of a family is grieved heavily because he not only takes away himself but the shield that he used to provide to keep his family safe and protected against all odds.

Undoubtedly, the loss of Astik’s parents would never be refilled or covered up by anybody, that being too personal for them, but truth and practicality not being denied, the stress of running the family without Astik, the tension of pulling out loans for the house with Astik not being around anymore, the pressure of the expenses with Astik being dead, shattered them more and so the dialogue comes up from Asutosh Rana who played Astik’s father, referring to Astik’s mother played by Sheeba Chaddha, “To kaho Guruji se, wo Astik ko waapis bhej de, loan chukane ke liye…” (Ask your guruji to send back Astik, to repay the loans)

What comes as a sheer shock to Astik’s parents was when the life insurance company announces Sandhya, Astik’s wife to be the sole nominee of the lumpsum amount of 50lacs, having no idea whether even a penny of it would come to them to manage the expenses of the 13day ritual and the loan that had been taken to renovate the house.

It was then when they had lost their sanity and people when distressed, take the most wrong decisions, especially under the influence of others, who not only misguide but also paralyze their sense of distinguishing between good and bad, thus leading Shivendra Giri, Astik’s father visit the life insurance company to somehow try hands in transferring the hefty insurance amount from Sandhya’s name through bribe.

Usha, Astik’s mother too didn’t abstain from approaching Sandhya with the marriage proposal that had come through Aditya’s (played by Nakul Sahadeva) parents who again had their own interest in helping their son open a restaurant of his own, which could be have been easily possible with the 50lacs received freshly from the insurance company by Sandhya.

Does it show the raw events of a middle-class family, too hard to digest? Well, we dwell and deal with such truths, which are not only irrational, illogical but sometimes malign and injurious to our heart and mind, every day!

Well, I don’t really blame Astik’s parents for acting weird and in a manner that they shouldn’t have had, but financial stress is a huge one with no funds in the family and also given the fact that they had hardly known Sandhya for a duration that wouldn’t have been enough for them to get convinced that she might aid financially and stand by them during the tough time because nobody actually does. Therefore the dialogue that Rana delivers, “Astik khud to chala gaya, humko iss jhamele mein fasa gaya…” (Astik left us all alone in this chaos), is not a statement of offense, rather an expression of losing the only hope, an expression of cluelessness and anxiety bundled up with irritation, anger, and incapability.

Pagglait | Sanya Malhotra | Sayani Gupta | Shruti Sharma

Akansha & Sandhya (by Sayani Gupta & Sanya Malhotra)

Obviously, Sanya had played the role of a very submissive yet strong woman in the movie, but we can just not get away without talking about Astik’s beloved, Akansha, played by Sayani Gupta.

Sandhya’s all possible doors were closed to explore life with her husband, and so she sought help from Akansha, because she knew everything about Astik and Sandhya wanted to feel a little more of Astik within her.

Sandhya had not been in love, she had never experienced love, and so she used the stories of her dead husband and his ex-lover to live the memories and the stories that were created by them.

Sandhya moved around places with a twinkle in her eyes, getting to know so many things about Lucknow, and the cloud of despair that was there in her mind from childhood about the capabilities of a woman, soon cleared, the more she came in close proximity with Akansha.

The day she had discovered that her husband was in love with some other woman before her marriage, her heart sank and she overthought, destroying sleep, peace of mind, and mounting herself with questions haunting her from inside and she decided to meet Akansha.

Having met her, Sandhya remained in awe of the strong and powerful woman Akansha was, be it in her body language, her driving, her way of wearing sunglasses, the confident way she spoke, the way her office colleagues greeted her, her command and everything.

Sandhya, took to imitating what Akansha was, not because she wanted to be her but because she gradually realized that she too was capable of being what Akansha already was, had she not been denied or kept away from all the exposures by her parents, relatives, and society.

Akansha, on the other hand, showed her maturity and gentlewoman-ness by gracefully and positively accepting to help Sandhya, who happened to be the wife of her long-term lover. She took her to places and introduced her to many ‘news’ of her life which she had been kept away from all these years.

The bonding that Akansha and Sandhya had shared in the movie was extremely deep and pure, an equation that could only be felt and not talked about, an understanding that could only be trusted and not explained, a line that could only be maintained and not crossed, respect that could only be given and not asked for.

These two women took to storms with their own way of reacting to the death of the same person, a lover to one and a husband to another.

The movie technically broke all the conventional incidents of cat-fighting, of blaming and accusing, of bawling and weeping, and emerged exceedingly brilliant with the cast doing absolutely natural acting and their performance worth the praise.

Pagglait | Sanya Malhotra

Astik and the end…

The entire movie revolved around him and until you reach the end of it, you would not know or understand that Astik is just a name throughout the movie and his death had created unprecedented chaos in everybody’s mind and lives.

Umesh Bist, the director of the movie lucratively played along with the audience with one name- Astik, with the zeal and hope uplifted in the crowd that it would now be shown who Astik was. He not only did take good care of the curiosity of his audience but closed the movie without raising any agitation amongst people as to why the character didn’t have a face.

The light-hearted dark movie which is definitely worth a watch to not just see the amazing performance and acting by the crew but also stirred in the minds of the people by giving reality checks and establishing the practicalities of everyday life.

When people talk about women's empowerment and about the rights of women and things related, it just does not mean that a parade needs to be done, or it does not at all mean a placard needs to be held, it does not mean to attack the men of the society. It also does not mean being able to speak in 10 vernacular languages or wearing a trouser-shirt and high wedge heels.

Women empowerment is a huge topic and it begins from home.

To accept the existence of a woman, to realize and value her worth, to take into consideration her decisions and viewpoints, to make them feel good, and most importantly, to not bad-mouth or ill-speak about a woman are the basic and baby steps towards the ladder which paves the way to a healthy society, thereby engaging in women empowerment.

And Bist has taught us exactly that in his 115mins movie which many of us would chuck out because of certain harsh realities portrayed in the movie because Taayaji played by Roshan Sethi says, “Aur dikhao Padman, sab Superman bann rahe hai, barbaad ho rahe hai sab…” (by watching movies like Padman, kids and people these days are all becoming Superman and getting spoilt).

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Varsha Karmakar

“Perhaps I write for no one, Perhaps I write for the same person”- Margaret Atwood.