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PATHER PANCHALI

India, 1952 (MIFF 1968, Programme 17)

Director: Satyajit Ray

The Apu Trilogy, India's most important contribution to world cinema so far, is based on the Bengali novel by Bibhuti Bhusan Bannerji. The book contains a great deal of autobiographical material and is a best seller in Bengal.

The central figure of the trilogy, Apu, is a small child in Part One, Pather Panchali. There is no conventional plot, the film shows the life of a poor family living in a Bengali village. There are two children, Apu and his own sister, Durga, the parents and a very old relative, "auntie". The children play their games and discover the world around them, the relationship between the individual members of the family unfolds against the broader background of their life in the village community.

The monsoon comes, Durga becomes ill, dies. The ancient auntie also dies, and the diminished family packs up to move to Benares in the hope of a better future.

Satyajit Ray said "I chose 'Pather Panchali' for the qualities that made it a great book its humanism lyricism and ring of truth". With supreme empathy, he translated all these qualities from the printed page, unspoilt by sentimentality, into poignant images on the screen.

See also...

WORLD OF APU

The third part of the Bengali saga continues the story of Apu, now a young man living in Calcutta and dreaming of a literary career and a positive future. An old friend invites him to a village ... More »

MAHANAGAR

Turning his back on the nostalgic past, on the lyricism of his earlier films. Satyajit Ray has produced a completely realistic contemporary masterpiece. Its theme is the conflict between the old and ... More »

THE HOME AND THE WORLD

In 1905, in keeping with the 'Divide and Rule' policy of India's British overlords, Lord Curzon (the British Viceroy) proposes splitting Bengal into two separate administrative units, intended to ... More »

KANCHENJUNGHA

The setting for Satyajit Ray's first film in colour is the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalayas: a point suspended in time between modern India and the gracious ... More »

APARAJITO

In the second part of the Apu trilogy, we find Harihar, his wife, Sarbojaya, and their son, Apu, in the holy city of Benares. Here, the father ekes out a living by reading the scriptures; when he ... More »

WORLD OF APU

So much has already been written about Pather Panchali and Aparajito that Ray's trilogy was destined for classic status even before the release of the third instalment, and the various influences ... More »

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