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.