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Right where it all began
Tagore on Screen
Teen Kanya - Samapti (1961) | Satyajit Ray
When the calm, composed and dignified Amulya returns to his village after completing his studies, his mother enthusiastically starts looking for prospective matches for his son. Being the ‘good boy’ that he is, Amulya follows his mother and meets the family of his bride and does all that an Indian groom is supposed to do. In the meantime, he comes across Mrinmoyee, the carefree, mischievous young girl of their village who is always busy playing pranks on everyone, cooking up new ways to be naughty. And Amulya falls in love with her. Mrinmoyee releases her pet squirrel into his room, steals away his slippers, and Amulya’s love only grows stronger. His mother finally gives up on her son and agrees to marry him off to Mrinmoyee, but our ‘pagli’, as she is called by the villagers, is not happy. She’s unwilling to let go of her independence and finds the shackles of married life suffocating. Amulya’s education forbids him to impose strictures on his new wife and he doesn’t pay heed to the advice of his villagers of dominating and scolding Mrinmoyee. The film ends on a sweet note when Mrinmoyee slowly discovers herself falling in love, and returns to Amulya, vowing to never leave him again.
Samapti forms a part of Teen Kanya, a set of three Tagore stories that Ray chose to mark the centenary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore. Samapti is a refreshingly beautiful film, and the most striking part of the story is probably the fact that we find Amulya respecting Mrinmoyee’s choices and decisions, giving her time to understand herself and waiting till she returns to him on her own. Mrinmoyee is not the conventional heroine of Indian literature and the story does break a lot of stereotypes. Samapti is not about love, it is about Mrinmoyee and her transformation from a girl to a woman. Love is just a discovery in the process.