#Opinion

Pagglait Reiterates Why Women Must Reclaim Agency Over Their Lives

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Feminism in Pagglait: It hasn’t even been a full day since Pagglait premiered on Netflix and the Sanya Malhotra-starrer has been smothered with such praise as is only reserved for films of its kind, with slice-of-life, relatable stories. Relatable not in the sense that all those watching must necessarily bear an experience of widowhood – which is what Malhotra as Sandhya renders in her lead role – but relatable in how it speaks of convention and expectations.

Though it is not spelled out in as many words, feminism is one of the overarching, underlying themes in Pagglaitrelayed through the simplest of utterances. “Agar hum apne phaisle khud nahi lenge na, toh doosre le lenge,” Sandhya says. [“If I don’t make my decisions myself, someone else will make them for me.”]

And isn’t this an inherent angst all women carry inside of them? A certain kind of helplessness when society and family and norms are intent on choosing our life for us? Anger when we’re deemed incapable of making our own decisions? Something that we’re all trying so hard to push back against and reclaim from the stronghold of patriarchy?

The Feminism In Pagglait Speaks To Us All

Pagglait falls in that category of family-centric films that seek to overturn the very guiding (dated) principles upon which these household units run. It has its predecessors in Badhaai Ho and English Vinglish, which straddle dramedy and women’s issues with weightless ease. Pagglait, to that end, is out and out feminist, trying to dismantle the stigma attached to widowhood, women making their own choices, daughters taking control of finances, and societal labels meant to shame.

Jab ladki log ko akal aati hai na, toh sab unhe pagglait hi kehte hain,Sandhya says at another point in the film, reinforcing the burden that comes with women standing up to take the reins of their own lives back from society. Should we even impart significance to people calling us ‘pagglait‘ for doing what we’re rightfully meant to do? Can all women everywhere aspire towards building this kind of confidence? How rapidly will that beckon change?

A woman may be at the nucleus of the story but the feminism in Pagglait is something that should speak to everyone watching since the concept is without any gendered restrictions. For those looking to secure agency in their lives, the film can be an encouragement to pull harder. And in hopes more ideal, it might probably even encourage the system of oppression to slacken its grip over women.

Views expressed are the author’s own.