, Sanya Malhotra’s “Pagglait”: One’s Death Birthed Another’s Life

4.5 Urbanasian Rating

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

After the death of her husband, Malhotra’s character realizes that she now has a newfound sense of independence, and wants to start a new life away from her family.

“Pagglait” details the story of a young woman, Sandhya Giri, whose husband, Astik Giri, passes away a few months after their marriage. While Astik’s family is devastated by the loss of their son, they are surprised to see Sandhya act as if nothing has changed. Both Astik and Sandhya’s parents believe that she is suffering from PTSD.

When eating dinner, both Sandhya’s in-laws and her parents discuss their confusion regarding her behavior.

“Right now, she’s too distressed … post traumatic stress disorder. It’s psychological. Mental trauma. Quite a common occurrence in such circumstances,” a family member says.

In the following thirteen days after Astik’s death, Sandhya learns more about who her husband was, and his life before they got married. She meets his ex-girlfriend Akanksha, and becomes close with her. Akanksha is what Sandhya considers to be a “modern working woman”, and she starts to wonder if that could have been her life as well. 

Around this time, Astik’s family comes to know about his life insurance policy. Astik had made Sandhya the sole benefactor of his insurance money. Astik’s parents want her to marry Astik’s cousin brother, Aditya, in order to keep the money in the family because without Astik’s income, they have been financially struggling. 

On the thirteenth day after Astik’s death, Sandhya runs away from her home and moves to a new city, realizing that she wants to work. She understands that her parents’ only goal had been to get her married, and even though she was extremely smart, they never let her focus on being independent. 

Before leaving the house, Sandhya and her mother argue about her initial decision to marry Aditya.

“You just never want to see me happy, do you? Am I so worthless? Will someone only love me if I have money?” Sandhya asks her mother. 

The film itself demonstrates a new aspect of mourning in Indian society, and more specifically, Hindu culture. It is almost ingrained in society that once a woman becomes a widow, her life is over, and she should mourn not only the death of her husband but the death of her life, forever. However, Malhotra’s character demonstrates that a widow isn’t losing her life because her husband has died; instead, she needs to find a way to move forward. 

Sandhya’s journey is also representative of how grief looks different for everyone and impacts people individually. Through her journey, the audience sees that no one should have to conform to society’s ideas of what grief should look like, and instead, understand what they are feeling without pressure from anyone else. 

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