Monday 17 March 2014

Aparajito [The Unvanquished] [1956]

Aparajito, the second chapter in Ray’s decorated human saga ‘Apu Trilogy’, was the most understated of the 3 films. Moreover, it’s easier to watch Pather Panchali and Apur Sansar as standalone films while this distinctly feels as a significant and defining middle segment of a larger picture. This haunting, melancholic and poignant coming-of-age tale explored two powerful themes – mother-son relationship, and the divide between home and the world. It takes off at Benaras where young Apu is residing with his father Harihar (Kanu Banerjee), who works as a priest there, and mother Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee). Tragedy strikes soon when Harihar dies, upon which Sarbajaya moves to the family’s ancestral village with her son. Apu isn’t interested in a life of priesthood, and more so when Western education in the school he enrolls in opens the whole universe to him; consequently, it’s a matter of time when he’ll leave home to find his place in the world, and the teenaged Apu (Smaran Ghosal) does that, much to his mother’s silent anguish, when he gets a scholarship to study in Calcutta. The film’s most sublime and heart-wrenching moments were those where subtle gestures and silent images reflected the agony of separation – the mother’s change of expression, from happiness at her son’s elation when given permission to go to Calcutta, to one of deep sadness for the inevitable loneliness, and, most unforgettably, the ailing mother silently staring at the passing trains with the hope to see her son one last time, with trains here symbolizing both moving from home to the world and the futile longing for reunion. Ravi Shankar’s tunes and Subrata Mitra’s camera perfectly complemented the pathos and humanism.

Director: Satyajit Ray
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Coming-of-Age
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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