The first film in Satyajit Ray's famous Apu Trilogy, Pathar Panchali (Songs Of The Little Road) is the saga of an impoverished Brahmin family living in a small Bengali village. Taking the hero Apu through his early years up to adolescence, Ray's haunting and evocative debut feature helped redefine Indian cinema and place it firmly on the map of world cinema. Re-released to mark its 50th anniversary, this undisputed classic should not be missed.
When his father Harihar (Kanu Banerjee) leaves for the city to pursue his dream of becoming a playwright, young Apu (Subir Banerjee), his mother Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee) and mischievous sister Durga (Uma Das Gupta) are left to fend for themselves. With little money for food and clothing, the additional burden of looking after their independent spirited elderly aunt Indir (Chunibala Devi) leaves them struggling to make both ends meet. But there's no trace of melodrama in this tale as happiness, play and exploration uplift the children's daily life, projecting a family full of dignity not deficiency.
"TOUCHING IN ITS SIMPLICITY"
Adapted from Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's 1929 novel, and deeply rooted in Bengali culture, what makes Pathar Panchali universally appealing is that the story is essentially about human beings. Extremely touching in its simplicity, emotional range and visual beauty, it's no wonder it became the first Indian film to achieve widespread international acclaim and establish Ray as a master filmmaker. One viewing of this masterpiece half a century after its celluloid birth and you can see precisely why iconic Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa remarked: "Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon."
In Bengali with English subtitles