'Pagglait' is a film that goes from death to life: director Umesh Bist

Radhika Sharma
·3-min read

New Delhi, Mar 25 (PTI) Like life, his upcoming film 'Pagglait' is a unique journey that begins from death to end in a new birth, says director Umesh Bist.

'Pagglait' follows Sandhya, played by Sanya Malhotra, a woman struggling to mourn the death of her husband, Astik.

As events unfold, Sandhya sets onto a path to find her identity while living amidst the quirky members of her joint family.

From the initial few scenes to its closing shot, the film highlights the importance of movement in life while making a subtle commentary on the contemporary sociopolitical issues in the country.

'Mostly stories go from life to death. But, this film goes from death to life. Every character has a definite arc. All stories in the film stop at a sum from where begins another journey,' Bist told PTI in an interview over Zoom.

The director, known for helming 2014's 'O Teri' and co-writing 'Hero' in 2015, has a spiritual take on life which reflects in 'Pagglait'.

'In Hinduism, life is not use and throw. It gets recycled, so there are many lives. Life is always a journey, it is never-ending. That is why even death is a celebration. In today's context, a feel of celebration seeps into that space,' Bist, who is also credited for the script, added.

Ideas are dreams one sees with open eyes, the filmmaker said, adding that the concept of 'Pagglait' came to him when he was working on a different project.

After participating in a cremation, the scenario started running in his head.

'We don't know how dreams develop, there's often no logic to them. But that's an organic process in itself, same goes with ideas. I was writing another film. I had done a cremation a while ago so that scenario was running through my head. I kept thinking about those rituals,' he added.

Bist, who was in talks with producer Guneet Monga for another film, said he shared this new idea with her.

Though Oscar winner Monga praised the concept, she told the director that she had stopped making films in Hindi and was moving to Hollywood.

'It felt as if my film was also going with her,' Bist recounted. But Monga lent an ear to 'this concept of death as a celebration' and soon started sharing her own experience of losing her parents.

The director said a relative of his, an empowered lady who was a young widow, served as an inspiration for the protagonist in 'Pagglait'.

'As Guneet kept talking, somewhere in my head, Sandhya started speaking to me. That’s where the film started to take shape. I promised Guneet that I will write the film in a month and went back to Delhi.' After a month, Bist went back to Mumbai to narrate the script to Monga, who was then was leaving for Los Angeles.

'But she heard the narration for two hours and eventually agreed to do the film,' the director said about Monga, who serves as a producer on 'Pagglait' via Sikhya Entertainment.

The events in the film, set in north India in a house named Shanti Kunj, stem from the death of Astik, a character whose face is never revealed.

According to Bist, Astik is not just a character, but an emotion like 'astikta', which means belief in the existence of God.

'Pagglait' also stars Raghubir Yadav, Sheeba Chaddha, Meghna Malik, Rajesh Tailang, Jameel Khan, Aasif Khan and Shrutii Sharma.

Also produced by Balaji Telefilms, the film is slated to start streaming on Netflix from Friday. PTI RDS BK BK