Ray had not planned to make a sequel to Pather Panchali, but after the film’s international success, he decided to continue the narrative, with Apu and his family having moved away from the country to live in the bustling holy city of Benares, where we witness Apu’s academic and moral education.
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Aparajito is a melancholy film that straddles the industrial transition of Bengali society and the subsequent shifts in consciousness. So many of the emotions conveyed by Apu and his mother feel universal and genuine. While I missed some of the charm found in Pather Panchali, Aparajito finds its strength by dramatizing transition and opposition.
REVIEW: 97/100. http://nextprojection.com/2014/07/05/sun-moon-films-satyajit-ray-aparajito-review-np-approved/
Ray’s Aparajito is an example of Indian Neorealism, wherein naturalism and depth come together through artifice as a means of expressing truth. The truth which Aparajito conveys is beyond words and beyond definition; one must experience the middle-child of Ray’s monumental trilogy for oneself...
In a sense, though I prefer Pather Panchali, this seems the most impressive of the trilogy. It starts out as a tale about a village family trying to survive in the big city (Benares), but a half hour in becomes a radically different and much more profound film about the tragedy of the parent-child bond. A good case could be made that Sarbojaya (the mother) is one of the most tragic female characters in films.
What is most admirable about Ray's work is the way he deals with his subject matter. Often, it is some pretty hard stuff. But he is too smart to think that life is all tragedy and no relief. He's a master of the little beauties of life, and balancing the pain with the joy. No matter how bad things get, there is always hope in Ray's world.