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PAGGLAIT (Netflix) - A worth watching film for its truthful, eye-opener merits despite the shortcomings. (Review by Bobby Sing)
31 Mar, 2021 | Movie Reviews / 2021 Releases

Since the last decade, Hindi filmmakers have been focusing on stories revolving around small-town characters, middle-class families, and their relatable affairs. That remains the reason, every similar presentation now seems to be repetitive and seen before often. Interestingly, PAGGLAIT both rises above it and falls too, ending on an unexpectedly filmy note mismatching the excellent execution witnessed in its first hour.

Beginning with a similar premise of the recent RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI, PAGGLAIT quickly moves on to its distinctive path with some brief introductions that also appear to be abrupt and repetitive. But then finding its grip, the film soon becomes a winner because of its thoughtful subject, realistic characterizations, and honest depiction of our collective hypocrisy practiced in such moments. Written and directed by Umesh Bist, it showcases how perceptions change and how people transform in just days post the untimely death of a young family member, married only a few months back.

Every little proceeding in its first hour seems so familiar, reaching out to the viewers with an appreciable emotional warmth because we have all seen such things happening in our families with the relatives maintaining their relationships with some grudges of the past. Besides, here the director presents grief along with a mix of humour and heartfelt emotions in such an impressive manner that one starts expecting something extra-ordinary to happen in its final 30 minutes.
 
Sadly, the extra-ordinary doesn’t happen and PAGGLAIT ends on a predictable note taking the routine path. Adding into the shortcomings, the lyrics work but music by Arijit cannot rise above the average, majorly because the western arrangements don’t seem to be on the same page representing the small-town feel. Wish Arijit and the director had kept it authentic (with Indian sound and instruments) as earlier seen in the new-age classic ANKHON DEKHI. Besides, a character of an ailing grandmother is the one we have now seen umpteen times in similar films, and hence fails to establish the assumed emotional connection in any manner.
 
Having said that, PAGGLAIT remains a worth recommending film as it reveals many important, eye-opener truths of our social structure that is more governed by the power of money than anything else. The performances are top-notch and it’s a treat to watch many underrated actors of Hindi cinema together led by the beautifully subtle and impactful Ashutosh Rana.
 
Sanya Malhotra as the protagonist playing the title role is brilliant, but the key supporting cast even scores better featuring Rana, Sheeba Chaddha, Natasha Rastogi, Meghna Malik, Raghubir Yadav, Sayani Gupta, Jameel Khan, Rajesh Tailang, and more. At the same time, a bit of overdoing is also there by a few (like the aunt and the younger brother). Where the interaction between two adolescents works, Sanya’s close friend’s character appears to be dumb, who just keeps obeying her in the entire film.
 
The writing strongly emphasizes the identity of a woman, the decisions she is allowed to take in a joint family, and her liberation after the death of her husband. Plus, it also prominently points towards the regressive patriarchal customs and the caste-based rituals of our society, in which a person from another religion is not allowed to participate. But despite the seriousness of its core subject, the tone remains lighter and a deliberate effort to keep it stuffed with funny references and more is constantly felt (like the irritating door-bell).
 
This actually made me recall one of our meetings in the past with a production house, in which their representatives clearly said, “Whatever is made, whether it is about death, murder or any other genre, the treatment should not be heavy as we are here to entertain not enlighten or give social discourses”. – PAGGLAIT seems to be a film exactly following a similar guideline. Thankfully, it still manages to convey what it wished to, remaining in that kind of fixed-dictated format.
 
Continuing with the merits, though the film is all about sudden death, still we are neither shown the person who has died nor made aware of the reason for his death, skipping the spoon-feeding. Further, the director presents his point with a noteworthy, sensitive portrayal that you never feel like questioning why the girl is behaving in this strange manner (before going back to the typical love triangle).
 
As I feel, PAGGLAIT is much more about money-power and how money changes everything around in our families and friend circles than women's empowerment. It begins with money itself, as an arranged marriage is always fixed, based upon the earnings of the boy and his family’s social status (also mentioned in a dialogue in the film). Later, every single character in the script suddenly changes (including the girl’s mother), once the insurance money comes in, becoming the crux of the film. Last, it also ends on a positive & uplifting note (all related to the money again), trying nothing bold or out of the box, intentionally maintaining the caring, family image of the young educated girl. 
 
To be fair with the lead, also found the title of the film inapt, as the protagonist here is not any Pagglait or mad kind of character. She is very real by all means and hence doesn’t need to be tagged as Pagglait.
 
Further, the culmination of the film also made me think that how a different climax in terms of money, would have changed the entire perspective of the viewer towards the girl and her thought-process. I hope the readers get the hidden indication here, as would not like to explain, maintaining the excitement for the film for friends who still haven’t watched it.

However, would love to share how stories get formed mainly revolving around women and not men. For instance, just assume this particular family tragedy happens in reverse. That is, the girl dies after five months and not the boy. What will be the result? Assuming it to be a natural death, honestly, the world will move on……… and there will no story to share! 

Summing up, despite the shortcomings, this is a worth watching attempt by the team as it entertains and enlightens showing us the mirror. PAGGLAIT also made me recall one significant sequence from Shyam Benegal's SURAJ KA SATWAN GHODA, but that needs to be shared in a separate write-up. Meanwhile, do watch this as a must and give it a thought.

Rating : 3.5 / 5 (including additional 0.5 for its fabulous supporting cast led by Ashutosh Rana and Raghubir Yadav) 
 
Note: It was good to see the title of the film coming in Hindi, English, and Urdu as it used to be the norm in the last century.

Tags : PAGGLAIT (Netflix) Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Bollywood Movies Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing
31 Mar 2021 / Comment ( 0 )
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