DirectorSatyajit Ray Release dateJanuary 16, 1970 (India) ScreenplaySatyajit Ray CountryIndia
Release dateJanuary 16, 1970 (India)
March 14, 1973 (USA) WriterSunil Gangopadhyay (original story), Satyajit Ray (screenplay) CastSoumitra Chatterjee (Asim), Samit Bhanja (Hari, Harinath), Subhendu Chatterjee (Sanjoy), Robi Ghosh (Sekhar), Pahadi Sanyal (Sadashiv Tripathi), Sharmila Tagore (Aparna) Similar moviesRelated Satyajit Ray movies
Aranyer Din Ratri (Bengali: অরণ্যের দিনরাত্রিAraṇyēra Dinarātri, Days and Nights in the Forest) is an Indian Bengali adventure drama film released in 1970 and directed by Satyajit Ray. It is based upon the Bengali novel of the same name by Sunil Gangopadhyay. It was one of the earliest films to employ the literary technique of the carnivalesque. The film was nominated for the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival. A sequel Abar Aranye directed by Goutam Ghose was released in 2003.
The plot of the movie goes back to a similar outing the writer Sunil Gangopadhyay took in the early days of his poetic career. The story unfolds around a group of four friends, quite unlike each other and yet bonded together deeply. The four friends are all educated and come from different layers of society, but the urge to escape from the daily grinding of city forces them to go out into the land of tribes.
Of the four friends, Asim (Soumitra Chatterjee), the leader of the pack, owns the car they drive in, has a cushy job, likes the company of girls and yet is very conscious of how he should be perceived by them. Sanjoy (Subhendu Chatterjee) is a labour executive but would ideally want to immerse himself in literature. Hari (Samit Bhanja), a frank and straightforward cricketer, wants to forget the girl who dumped him. Shekhar (Rabi Ghosh) is the jester of the party, the only one without a job. He has a roving eye but stays sober when his friends get drunk and vent their frustrations. They set out for the tribal Palamau, in Bihar, to tear themselves away from their regulated city life. They had read legends about this land, the tribal women who are open and simple and beautiful. Wanting to break rules, they force a stay in a forest rest house by bribing the chowkidar, burn a copy of a newspaper in a symbolic gesture of cutting ties from civilization, deliberate on whether to shave or not and walk through the forest to get drunk at a country liquor shop. Hari gets close to tribal Santhal girl Duli (Simi Garewal) when she approaches the group for extra drink.
Their resolve to be unshaven collapses when Shekhar sights two ladies Aparna (Sharmila Tagore) and her sister-in-law Jaya (Kaberi Bose) in the forest. The four introduce themselves to this family and in the midst of the forest, the two urban groups of people are almost relieved to find someone from their part of society. Asim flirts with Aparna and coaxes her to show her room. He is attracted to the elegant and enigmatic Aparna, but is unable to keep pace with her composure, presence of mind and intelligence. Later Jaya invites all of them for breakfast the next day. At night the four friends go to drink alcohol again in the country liquor house. Hari is upset because he cannot see Duli (Simi Garewal) whom he had met previous night. While returning to their rest house, they stumble upon a car which they shout at without realizing it as the car of Aparna. They oversleep and miss the next day's breakfast. They find a packet of food lying outside their rooms and go to Aparna's house to return it. The entire group decides to chat near the rest house while Aparna's father is away with Jaya's son for a circus. They play a memory game where each participant has to add a name to a chain of names of famous people, after repeating all the names in correct sequence. The names each player chooses reflect his/her own preference and state of mind. The game reaches a crescendo, with only Asim and Aparna left in the fray, at which point Aparna pulls out, deliberately handing victory to Asim, who seems to have placed his entire confidence at stake on the win.
The tensions peak at the village fair where the four friends go their own way. Shekhar goes off to gamble with money borrowed from his friends. Hari takes Duli into the forest and makes love to her. Aparna reveals her more vulnerable side that lies behind her composed exterior. She also holds up a mirror to urban insensitivity by pointing out to Asim how despite having spent three days at the rest house, they never bothered to find out how grievously ailing was the chowkidar's wife. Sanjoy, held back by his middle class moralities, is unable to draw up courage to respond to Jaya's bold advances. Later he walks back on the lonely village road, lost in his own thoughts as twilight melts into darkness. The next morning, the four friends, each wiser than before in his own way, leave for Calcutta since their new friends have had to return in a hurry. As a parting gift, they find a can of boiled eggs sent by the thoughtful Jaya. The look of glee on Shekhar's face as the car drives off and the relieved chowkidar rushes to close the gates behind them, brings about an emphatic finish to this forest sojourn.
Soumitra Chatterjee as Ashim
Subhendu Chatterjee as Sanjoy
Samit Bhanja as Hari
Rabi Ghosh as Shekhar
Pahadi Sanyal as Sadashiv Tripathi
Sharmila Tagore as Aparna
Kaberi Bose as Jaya
Simi Garewal as Duli
Aparna Sen as Hari's former lover
Critics praised it heavily worldwide. After watching the movie Pauline Kael in the 'New Yorker' felt that "Satyajit Ray’s films can give rise to a more complex feeling of happiness in me than the work of any other director.... No artist has done more than Ray to make us reevaluate the commonplace." Again in 'Reeling' Kael further added: "A major film by one of the great film artists, starring Soumitra Chatterjee and the incomparably graceful Sharmila Tagore." David Robinson wrote in 'Financial Times'- "... every word and gesture is recognizable, comprehensible, true ... Ray's work at its best, like this, has an extraordinary rightness in every aspect of its selection and presentation - the timing, performance, cutting, music - which seem to place it beyond discussion." Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his list of '1000 ESSENTIAL FILMS', kept this film as his 2nd favourite film released in 1970. The New York Times described the film as a ‘rare, wistful movie that somehow proves it’s good to be alive.’