Exclusive: Seema Pahwa on similarities between Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi and Pagglait, reveals her 'issue' with the film
The recent Netflix release Pagglait is mired in controversy after certain sections of the audience noticed similarities between the Sanya Malhotra-starrer and Seema Pawha's directorial debut, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi. Both movies revolve around a person's death and the events unfolding until the 'terhvi' - the 13th day of the funeral rituals. Directed by Umesh Bist, Pagglait was released on March 26, whereas Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi made a debut at the MAMI Film Festival in 2019 before it was released in theatres earlier this year.
Seema, speaking with Hindustan Times, has observed the similarities as well, but gave the makers the benefit of the doubt. "Maybe it is a coincidence. Two people can think similarly. They thought of it as we did, their subject is also different. They have focused on a young girl's problem whereas our focus was on an old lady," she said.
"People go through several similar experiences in life. If you take a middle-class family, there are events and people who share similarities so I feel this could be a coincidence. It definitely must be a coincidence, who would want to copy someone else's work," Seema explained.
Asked if she tried to understand how the coincidence occurred, Seema said, "I have not tried to find out when the film was made or what the background is, I can only talk about my film that I wrote this movie in 2015, I made it in 2018 and could release at MAMI in 2019." The director added, "All I know is that it was after MAMI 2019, their auditions began but I am not sure of it, and neither I am involved in any of these things."
Seema did not watch the Netflix movie as soon as it released. However, she decided to watch it after she received several calls. "I recently watched Pagglait. I had not seen it previously but a few people called so I had to watch the movie. When I watched it, I felt that maybe since the location was the same, the look of the middle-class family is similar, and maybe since the problems of the middle-class is the same, the movies look identical. It doesn't make a difference if the story revolves around the problems of a young girl in Pagglait or an old lady in Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi," she said.
"But had the locations been different, maybe then it would have made a difference. Since the locations are the same, there is confusion, thus making the movie look similar," she added.
Despite the similarities, Seema praised Sanya for her performance. "Sanya has done a good job. As per the script's demands, she delivered a beautiful performance. Everyone has done a good job, they are all my friends and talented actors. It is a good movie in it's own right)," she said.
However, she did not agree with the subject of the movie. "I have a few objections with the movie, not because it shares similarities with my film, but because I object to a few things regarding the subject. In a middle-class house, there is no humour when a youngster passes away," she said.
Seema recalled her personal experience of losing her brother at a young age, and said, "I lost my brother at the age of 28. I remember that his demise not only silenced our house but also the whole street, in Daryaganj. The radio wasn't played for 13 days in anyone's house at the time."
"The shock of a youngster's passing is bigger. That, for me, was strange, I have an issue with digesting that since I have experienced it first hand. My wedding was in a few days, and it was a sad time, and my family remained in grief for over a year)," she added.
Seema had previously revealed that the script of Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi was inspired by the events that took place at her house at the time of her father's death.