Bollywood often speaks about relationships on celluloid and banks on the relatability quotient of the same. These films may not be eventful, or hair-raising. Rather, they highlight conflicts which occur in the everlasting relationships we share with some special people. In recent years, a film that gifted us some refreshing trips down our memory lanes was Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ (2011) or ZNMD. Of course, there was ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ along the same lines made earlier by Farhan Akhtar, but I personally could connect better to ZNMD. I find ZNMD strangely reminiscent of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Aranyer Din Ratre’ (1970). I intend to draw the reader’s’ interest toward Ray’s film, and thus, expand the understanding of relationships in both Ray’s and Akhtar’s depictions.
ZNMD showed us the relationship of a group of childhood friends that had lost its comradeship over the years. The boys – Arjun, Imraan, and Kabir, who were once inseparable, plan to reunite for a bachelor trip in Spain before Kabir ties the knot in the following month. The intent of the trip was to simply find themselves back in their relationship. This proved to be tricky due to the people they have grown into. We understand the differences among them in a particularly memorable scene in which we see Kabir working in a stunning backdrop. The very observation of the scenery not distracting Kabir from his work on a holiday stuns them. “Kabir. Pehle iss amazing view ko dekh. Aur phir dekh humare bichare dost ko. Kya ho gaya hai isse,” sighs Imran.
Leaving their work and worries behind, they give in to the beauty they experience all around in Spain which in turn has a significant role in reviving their friendship. The trip with a package of life-changing adventures enables the three friends to reconsider the choices they made initially for the long run. All these changes had been narrated idyllically by Imran throughout the movie. Occasionally, his poems keep reverberating around us which ensure our compliance with the main characters.
Satyajit Ray’s ‘Aranyer Din Ratre’ or ‘Days and Nights in the Forest’ forms a retrospect into the thematic perception of ZNMD about friendship with slight differences in the characters and the setting. Here, the sole aim of the road trip planned by four friends was to abandon the rules of civilization that the city of Kolkata imposed on them for a few days and experiment with the wildlife in the jungles of Palamau. Their adventures weren’t as sporty, or as thrilling as in ZNMD. Nevertheless, they felt the same joy in viewing the sun set in different shades like Burt Lancaster’s movies (the enthusiastic Shekar evoked) which was a rare sight back home. The short relief from a chaotic everyday life was also made worthy by witnessing and engaging in the youthful enthusiasm of the Santhal tribal groups and meeting two ladies who were lodging in their ancestral bungalow amidst the jungle. One feels younger as he/she leaves Kolkata behind for a while- In that little while, the spirit of the youth encourages us to make most of the moments. Driven by these sentiments, they try to interact with the ladies, which did not prove to be a comforting experience in the wild. On the contrary, the complications that they often confront in relationships in their sanitised urban life’s follow them on the trip. Only after coming to nature they could realize the pervasion of complexities in human relationships. To explain this on a simple note Kabir says in ZNMD, “Duniya mein kahi bhi jao, log ek jaise hote hai. It’s just human nature.” But a deep discovery of this simple understanding leads to introspection which we see happening among the boys in ‘Aranyer Din Ratre’. Ashim, the most successful of the friends, feels abashed after his charm and confidence are proved futile after he meets Aparna. Sanjoy, the thinking cap of the group, realizes his innate weakness after he fails to communicate with Jaya, a covertly depressed widow. Shekhar, the stunt-heighted comedian, remains unaffected all along as his prime characteristic is his ability to maintain poise between the friendships that are growing between the men and the women.
Both the movies provide us with the track to understand and value the unbreakable relationships we share in life in many dimensions when encumbered by time, work, and the city. Relationships are never simple. The solution may not lie in simplifying the difficulties because they keep proliferating, but in having introspected the life spent with the person with regard to the incidents faced, the realities experienced, the various people observed and conversed with, the memories created, and the life that shall progress.
Author: Sautrik Mukherjee