Directed by: #UmeshBist
Written by: #UmeshBist
Starring: #SanyaMalhotra, #SayaniGupta, #AshutoshRana
Film Review by: Emily Davison
Widowed soon after marriage, a young woman grapples with quirky relatives and a startling discovery about her late husband which leads to a revaluation of her place in society.
Pagglait (2021) is a Bollywood comedy drama directed and written by Umesh Bist and was released on Netflix in late March. This Hindi language film offers an easily immersive viewing experience with an engaging, charming screenplay and wonderful performances from the ensemble cast all around.
Rafey Mahmood’s cinematography is simple, yet appealing and couples with Bist’s talented eye for direction very well. The film often presents beautiful serene imagery which captures the natural beauty of the country, such as a blood red sun setting presented through fast motion photography or simple shots of the local food delicacies. There is also good use of slow motion which emphasise the nuanced quality of the movie and represents the turbulent emotions of the family’s grief and confusion well.
All members of the large ensemble cast perform splendidly in each of their respective roles, with a nice believability to the family members which can be relatable to audiences across the world. A forgetful granny who seems to have more wisdom than what she is really letting on, or a fretful mother worrying for her daughter’s wellbeing are just a couple of examples. Sanya Malhotra as Sandhya made for an excellent lead performance, who embodied a quiet furiosity and overwhelming sense of confused sadness very well, making for a strong and natural screen presence. A special mention must also go to Ashutosh Rana, who played Astik’s father (Sandhya’s recently deceased husband), who was a standout highlight amongst the large cast due to his authentic display of raw grief after the loss of his son. His sequences were certainly amongst the most moving and emotionally stimulating of the film.
The film also includes an enthralling musical score by Arijit Singh, which has a very calming tranquil quality that works excellently alongside the warm colour palette. There are music sequences scattered throughout with songs played over montages, which are also welcome additions that fit well within each emotional context and never feel overstated.
The screenplay balances the drama and comedy well, with more of a focus on an interesting social commentary on marriage customs in India as well as the emancipation of women. Although, there is an amusing running gag of the doorbell having a silly jingle each time it is rung by visiting family members which added a nice slice of humour amongst the family drama. The film is consistently engaging with its strong cast of relatable characters and an uplifting, feel good ending highlighting female empowerment and independence is tastefully handled and not overplayed.
Pagglait is a thoroughly entertaining watch and an affectionately handled film, bolstered by charming performances, immersive cinematography and a captivating screenplay. This film definitely deserves more attention!
Pagglait (2021) Film Trailer: