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Review Bengali

Sampurak review: Prabal Chakraborty makes strong statement on how working women are treated

Release Date: 21 Nov 2018 / 15min

Cinestaan Rating

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Blessy Chettiar

The film traces how differently a man and a woman are treated at their respective homes after their joint win at a business workshop.

We fete women for their achievements. But duties relating to home or children still remain the test we rate their competence on.

Director Prabal Chakraborty's Sampurak (The Other Half) uses the short film format to make a strong statement on the plight of working women vis-à-vis a working man. The prefix ‘working’ sounds absurd when place before the word man. The assumption of bread winner role for a man and caretaker for a woman is so deeply entrenched in the psyche that even women fail to notice this blatant day-to-day discrimination. They’ve stopped noticing that they’ve been short changed in lieu of roles like mother, sister and wife.

Paromita (Chandreyee Ghosh) and her male colleague (Raj Sengupta) are declared joint winners at a five-day business workshop. On her return home, her husband barely acknowledges her win. She is expected to clean up the house, and spend time with their daughter who her husband “baby sits” for the time Paromita is away. In a scene, we see her hard-earned trophy lying on the floor, as she longs for appreciation or even a word of encouragement from her husband, an award winning novelist.

Director Chakraborty, who has also edited the film, cleverly juxtaposes contrasting lives in two different homes. In the male colleague’s house, a feast is prepared to celebrate his win and he is showered with attention by his wife.

His artistes are expressive and in a short span of 15 minutes, Chakraborty makes a huge statement on the treatment of women in urban life. Shooting indoors works on two levels for the film — one, it’s convenient, and two, it becomes a metaphor for Paromita, whose expressions reek of claustrophobia caused by the trappings of a marriage.

The contrast seems glaring when seen on the big screen, but it is a truth of daily life for most working women. It’s a common sight in Mumbai’s local trains where working women are seen cleaning or chopping up vegetables while returning home. They know time is precious and no meal would magically appear at home even though they may be exhausted from the day’s work.

Thankfully, Chakraborty’s film ends on a strongly positive, albeit ornamental, note. As Paromita makes a place of honour on the mantle for her trophy, you can’t help but applaud Chakraborty’s subtlety. Women will create a space and take what’s respectfully theirs.

Sampurak (The Other Half) was screened at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Panaji, Goa on 21 November 2018.

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