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Sampurna review: Rajnandini Paul and Sohini Sarkar are outstanding in this dark, disturbing saga of marital rape

The Sayantan Ghosal series mostly deals with an array of social issues, without going overboard

Sampurna review: Rajnandini Paul and Sohini Sarkar are outstanding in this dark, disturbing saga of marital rape
Rajnandini Paul as Nandini in Sampurna

Last Updated: 08.53 PM, Jul 29, 2022


Story: Nandini (Rajnandini Paul) gets married to Raktim, aka Ruku (Anubhav Kanjilal), and enters the Sanyal household. Ruku – a bright student and a successful professional – is the apple of his mother' (Laboni Sarkar) eye. He is also very close to his boudi Sampurna (Sohini Sarkar, sister-in-law). Sampurna is married to the elder son of the Sanyal family for seven years. Sampurna epitomises the complete woman. Father-in-law’s (Rajat Ganguly) medicines, mother-in-law’s demands, husband’s (Piku, Prantik Chatterjee) breakfast – she takes care of it all. She is the real bright burst of energy, taking everything in her stride. In fact, she takes charge of Ruku's wedding when his mother almost calls it off. She, like an elder sister, welcomes Nandini to their house.

And then everything starts falling apart from the first night of Nandini and Ruku’s conjugal life. He forces himself on her. He becomes violent and pays no heed to what Nandini wants. Sampurna learns about Ruku’s hitherto unknown nature. She stands by her sister-in-law and her family, including her husband, goes against her.


Review: The charm of Sampurna lies in its simplicity. It shows a regular Bengali middle-class family. From their aspirations to problems and celebrations – every bit is familiar and hence, relatable to us. In fact, the Sanyal family is a model Indian middle-class household that is proud of their sons and tries to hush up any family scandal from the neighbours and relatives. It is because of this simplicity, every trauma of Nandini and Sampurna appears to be relatable and real. It is this familiar situation that generates the most unsettling feeling among the viewers while watching the show. After seeing the beastly side of Ruku, it seems that we know so many Rukus around us and yet have little idea of their dark sides. When Ruku’s mother defends her son, it looks like it is a known scene we have grown up with.

In this simplicity, lies the success of Sampurna. The show deals with the dark reality of marital rape which is not a criminal offence in India. And yet, like the dowry system and other forms of domestic violence on brides, marital rape is a clear reality of abuse on Indian women. More interestingly, the practice of marital rape is often misconstrued as a birthright of a large section of Indian men. They think wife is personal property. Our society, families, and even the law, do not take much effort to make them understand the meaning of consent and how to respect it. So much so that even the victims’ families often make her realise that it is her responsibility to adjust to the groom’s exorbitant libido. Sampurna is no exception. Let alone Ruku’s father, mother and brother, Nandini’s family also forces her to withdraw her complaint against her husband. These moments of stark reality make the show stand out from run-of-the-mill type. Writers Anuja Chatterjee and Soumyabrata Rakshit have done a brilliant job.

Sohini Sarkar as Sampurna
Sohini Sarkar as Sampurna

Furthermore, we see an outstanding set of performances. Sohini seems not only to be the type of person able to do whatever it takes to get a job done; she seems to be a social crusader armed with an inate simplicity and clarity of vision. Sampurna loves her family. She finds bits of joy from the people whom she identifies as her own – her husband, in-laws and so on. In Sampurna, we see her as a loving sister and a responsible homemaker.

Anubhav also does a good job of playing a negative character without becoming the villain in the show. Ruku is a soft, obedient son, who has diligently pursued his career. His indomitable sexual desire makes him behave like a ruthless and harmful human being. Neither does he recognise this problem of his nor does anyone of his family members point out this problem to him. In fact, his monstrous behaviour gets encouraged. Anubhav leaves no stone unturned to portray the dark shades of Ruku. Laboni’s character is loud. But she does a good job of portraying a proud mother of two sons. Her performance, along with that of her husband Rajat Ganguly and elder son Prantik, is so realistic that it will make you livid while watching the show. Despite their limited movements, Prantik and Rajat are also convincing. Parometa Mukherje enters with full gusto as a cop Pritha Dutta but ends up a meek, over-dramatised and unconvincing victim of domestic violence. Though Arijita Mukherjee is in a role which makes her moves quite predictable she is an outstanding actress no doubt.

However, Rajnandini takes the cake in the acting department. She bowls us over with her muted presence as the quiet young woman Nandini. She begins her journey as a delicate flower and transforms into a wounded tigress and Rajnandini showcases every bit of her skills to capture the rise and fall of Nandini. The actress deserves a bow.

There are certain unavoidable downsides to the show. It has a terrible intro with a hideous colour palette and animation. It is so bad that it will immediately put off the audience who likes to judge the book by its cover.

Also, there is a 10-minute sequence in the last episode where Nandini is introduced to other domestic violence victims. While the importance of the sequence is understandable, that bit in the show is completely unbearable. It is drenched in overt sentimentality and each of the actresses manages to deliver a hideous performance there. The dialogues are sloppy and the scene seems unending. However, the episode doesn’t take long to recover from that faltering bit and finally, delivers an outstanding climax that leaves us in awe of Rajnandini once again.

Verdict: Sampurna is a must-watch. Like Damini and Dahan, it is a reality check for all of us in society. It brings up real questions about the legal system that refuses to recognise marital rape as a criminal offence. In an absolutely non-preachy way, the show also emphasises the importance of ‘no’. Most importantly, unlike many other films and shows of a similar genre, it doesn’t need an angry young man to reinstate what is right and what is wrong. Here goes a shoutout for team Sampurna.


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