This is a great scene from Satyajit Ray's Aranyer Dinratri (1970) aka 'Days and Nights in the Forest'. A group of six people, spending a vacation in a forest, plays a memory game. I have uploaded the 8-minute scene on Youtube. Even if you do not understand Bengali, you can easily follow it. And I want you to watch it. I want to share a glimpse of the genius called Satyajit Ray.
But before you go for the video, I would like to brief you a little about the six characters. Knowing them better will help you appreciate the subtlety with which Ray captures their psychology and the games they play. The underplay of sexuality, among other things, is one of the best achievements of the director. Of course, the best way would be to watch the film. But otherwise, here they are (clockwise from top) :
- Aparna or Reenee (Sharmila Tagore) : A girl who lost her mother when she was in school and then her elder brother. She grew up as a bright and intelligent girl, with an excellent memory and a taste varying from Mozart to Tagore to Shakespeare to contemporary issues. During this vacation, she has met Ashim, and both are attracted to each other. But no one has yet taken the first step.
- Sanjoy (Shubhendu Chatterjee) : Labour Officer in a jute mill in Calcutta. A hard-working, polite, bachelor. Parents have started looking for a girl to marry him. He is all-set to become a 'conventional' Bengali gentleman with considerable success. During the time he spends here, he develops a bond with Jaya. But we are not aware of that yet.
- Jaya (Kaberi Basu) : She is Aparna's sister-in-law, a widow. But we have never seen her sad. She keeps coming up with little things to engage everyone, from badminton to going to the tribal fair. Later in the film, with her growing intimacy with Sanjoy, we get to know about the real pain she is going through. But for now, she is just a warm and sweet lady.
- Ashim (Saumitra Chatterjee) : A promising executive, handsome, charming. The richest of the four friends. It is he who suggested this trip and we see him paying for all expenses. It is in his car that the friends travel. But each night, when he gets drunk, his frustration comes out - the frustration of being stuck in a job he hates. On Sanjoy's compliment that he will keep going up as long as he lives, Ashim replies: "With each high, a new low." Since the time he has met Aparna, he is attracted to her and it is through him that we discover Aparna.
- Hari (Samit Bhanja) : A sportsman. Even in the forest he is dying to know about the live cricket score. He has just had an upsetting break-up with his girlfriend and is low on confidence and spirit. He has the best built but possibly the least brains. He is going to lust for a tribal woman he sees in the forest.
- Shekhar (Robi Ghosh) : The funny man of the group. He has no job and is fond of gambling, although he avoids alcohol. Keeps borrowing money from friends and does not hesitate in approaching woman. Supremely confident. And extremely entertaining. You are going to love this character forever.