The story revolves around a poor Brahmin family in early years of the century in Bengal. The father, Harihara, is a priest who is unable to make ends meet to keep his family together. The mother, Sarbajaya, has the chief responsibility for raising her mischievous daughter Durga and caring for her elderly aunt Indir, who is a distant relative and whose independent spirit sometimes irritates her. With the arrival of Apu in the family, scenes of happiness and play enrich their daily life.
Life, however, is a struggle, so Harihara has to find a new job and departs, leaving Sarbajaya alone to deal with the stress of this family’s survival, Durga’s illness and the turbulence of the monsoon. The final disaster, Durga’s death, causes the family to leave their village in search of a new life in Benares.
In spite of poverty and death the film leaves one not depressed but moved, filled with the beauty, and subtle radiance of life. The film suggests an intimate relationship between loss and growth or destruction and creation. –Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center
Satyajit Ray is one of cinema’s truest Renaissance men. In addition to his films, he is a reputed writer of short stories, a music composer (scores for his own films and other film-makers, notably Merchant-Ivory’s Shakespeare Wallah) and a painter and graphic designer of considerable skill. Appropriately enough, Ray derived from a background of great culture, the son of poet Sukumar Ray who died when he was three years old. His interest in fine arts, literature and painting led him to reside at Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan (an intellectual retreat for artists and thinkers) for a significant period of time. Ray’s true love however was the cinema. The cinema of 30s Hollywood, which included Fred Astaire musicals and comedies by Ernst Lubitsch; Russian films he devoured in repeated viewings at the Calcutta Film Society (which he co-founded in 1947) and later the Italian neorealist films which he discovered in London.
At the time of the Second World War, and the final period of… read more
Inspired by Italian neo-realism and influenced by the depiction of rural life in the films of Flaherty, Ray's masterly debut strikingly evokes the cycle of life and death. The story centres on a poor Bengali family and brilliantly captures the beauty of the countryside, the grimness of poverty and the eternal fight for survival. Timeless images and lyrical music combine perfectly in a film to cherish for a lifetime..
Humanist cinema in its purest, most innocent form. Ray’s lucid capturing of the daily foibles and travails of his rural inhabitants - the trifles of their society so naturally depicted; even Shankar’s music, indelibly authentic - all in seamless montage within Ray’s unique neorealist importation, or rather, his poetic realism, with vibrancy conjured in every frame. An incipient, elemental life cycle and its essences, of joy, sadness and resilience; unplugged.
Above: Madhabi Mukherjee in The Coward. On the surface, Satyajit Ray's diptych, Kapurush-o-Mahapurush (The Coward and The Holy Man) seems
The startling debut feature of Satyajit Ray, who would go on to become the most prominent Bengali film maker working outside the Bollywood system, Pather Panchali’s beauty is in its story and incredible… read review
Pather Panchali is a brilliantly photographed and surprisingly well scored film. It also has a tediously boring narrative and this is the film’s greatest fault. There is so little about it that is… read review