‘Aranyer din ratri’ is a Bengali film by Satyajit Ray. This film is a masterpiece in many ways. Firstly, it is the earliest carnivalesque film- that subverts and liberates the assumptions of the dominant atmosphere through humor and chaos. Secondly, it is a revealing study of the Indian (especially Bengali) middle-class and youth. Thirdly, it is Ray’s take on human sexuality in a light and humorous note.
Initially, it might seem like the escapades of four men who break free from their constrictive surroundings into the wilderness and meet three women. However, an afterthought will reveal different layers to it. The evident differences among these men and women do not prevent an extraordinary sexual chemistry from developing which is all the more vivid being understated and unspoken. The picnic scene where they play a literary game is a deep analysis of their character and sexuality. In this beautiful tale, Ray tells a story of love lost, confidence regained, inhibitions of a conservative society blown away, overwhelming sadness, and the joy and freedom of coming close to nature.
This film drills down to show the emotions of santhal men and women- feelings on an everyday basis, that has led to the problem of naxalism we face today. It shows the place where I belong to- the forests of Jharkhand (then Bihar). The people, the greenery, the culture, the dances, the women who never grow old, and the hard working men- its a heaven of its own kind! It is only my place, where you’ll find men and women drinking mahua (local alcohol) together- just like they do in western countries! 🙂