Raat Aur Din (1967)
Director: Satyen Bose; Writer: Satyen Bose, Akhtar Hussain, Govind Moonis; Producer: Jaffer Hussain; Cinematographer: Madan Sinha; Editor: G.G. Mayekar; Cast: Nargis, Pradeep Kumar, Feroz Khan, Anwar Hussain (Actor), K.N. Singh, Laxmi Chhaya, S.N. Banerjee, Leela Mishra, Sulochana Chatterjee, Ranjana Kadam, Parasram, Brahm Bhardwaj, Gulam Sabir, Abu Baker, Veena Kumari, Sulochana (Ruby Myers), Baby Farida, Noor Jehan, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Anoop Kumar, Moolchand, Ravikant
Duration: 02:15:03; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 150.000; Saturation: 0.000; Lightness: 0.241; Volume: 0.068; Cuts per Minute: 7.685
Summary: Pratap, while stranded during a stormy night, meets with Varuna, and is instantly attracted to her. He proposes marriage through his family, and soon both get married. He soon notices that Varuna has some strange habits, which are compounded when he finds out that she leaves the house alone at night to go to night-clubs, and sings, dances, and drinks alcohol. When he questions Varuna, she denies ever doing any such thing. His mother thinks that Varuna is possessed, and arranges for an exorcism, which is in vain, as even Pratap is opposed to this. Then Pratap meets with Dilip, who claims to be Varuna's lover, and knows Varuna as "Peggy".
Baruna/Peggy drinks with Dilip and refuses to recognise Pratap, her husband. The nightclub in the city is a place where her licentiousness and the loss of 'respectable'/comprehensible stable identities can be accounted for. The relationship between urbanity, modernity, female independence and the idiom of identity disorder is worth exploring. The implausibility of a marriage between Christian and 'modern' Peggy and traditional, upper-caste Hindu Pratap is an exploration of the anxieties around inter-community marriages/alliances.
Baruna's headaches are frequent and intense throughout the film and point to a mental condition. The rock suddenly slipping down the incline is a trigger and a clue to the story behind her condition.
The psychiatric hospital and the specialist doctors attend to Baruna and try to diagnose her. The attempt to find out information about her past and their manner of consultation with her and her husband Pratap and their newfound associate, Dilip, indicates an attempt to represent psychiatric treatment for Hindi film viewers. Also important to note is the presence of Dilip's character - peripheral and yet omnipresent through the film. Perhaps he is a stand-in for the audience?
Baruna dances to foreign music. The association of female laughter with sexual unconventionality and eventually hysteria or psychological deviance runs throughout the film and finds particular emphasis in this scene. Pratap and his mother looking through the keyhole mirrors a later sequence that explains the cause of Baruna's affliction - voyeurism and desire are dangerous.
The attempted exorcism of Baruna takes place. A charlatan is invited to rid Baruna of evil spirits (bhoot-pret). This is an interesting moment in terms of making explicit the genre overlap of Gothic horror (the scenes in the forest, the suggestion of inexplicable supernatural forces) and psychological thriller (a medically discoverable cause, a damaged mind), also coded as masculine and feminine culturally.
"Ek jism mein do roohein" - "Two souls in one body": The doctors diagnose Barunas as having split personality disorder and liken it to the traditional understanding of being possessed. The scientific and occult mix again.
The female ward and Dr. Kumar are introduced. Similar to comic elements in 'Khamoshi', there is an attempt to present mentally aberrant behaviour in a light-hearted vein through the figure of an outsider - Arun's adoptive uncle in the case of 'Khamoshi' and Dr. Kumar in the case of 'Raat Aur Din'.
The hospital becomes the "night club" for Baruna/Peggy. Her behaviour is suggestive and immoral and her libidinous energy unacceptable and hysterical.
Dr. Dey explains Baruna's condition to Pratap in clinical terms.
Baruna is given shock therapy.
News of her pregnancy drives Baruna into a hysterical fit during which she expresses a desire to kill the baby. Radical in terms of showing a female protagonist rejecting motherhood, the only explanation acceptable for the audience would be her mental instability/disorder.
Baruna's father comes to see her while she is amnesiac and this is triggering.
"Mujhe acchi bachi nahin banna!" ("I don't want to be a good girl!": at the heart of the film is the tension between what is acceptable for a good Hindu woman to do and what isn't. The repressed desires of Baruna become a metaphor for the constraints with which women were supposed to live in the era in which the film was made.
split personality, female sexuality, psychiatry, mental hospital