Saturday 22 March 2014

Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) [1959]

Apur Sansar was the masterful concluding chapter in Ray’s vaunted ‘Apu Trilogy’, one of the great achievements in the history of the medium. The subtle tonal shifts across the trilogy was worth noting, from cinematic exuberance in Pather Panchali to profound restraint in Aparajito to world-weary cynicism in Apur Sansar, with coping with personal loss being a common strand in all. Apu, played by Soumitra Chatterjee in his first of 14 feature film collaborations with Ray, is now a young wannabe writer living alone at a rented place in Calcutta. The only person he’s close to is his college buddy Pulu (Swapan Mukherjee) with whom he shares his manuscripts and has good laughs once in a while. So, when Pulu presses Apu to accompany him and attend his cousin sister’s marriage, Apu accepts, oblivious of what fate has in store for him, as he ends up getting married himself with the young and demure Aparna (Sharmila Tagore). Tragedy, however, refuses to leave his company, and when his wife unexpectedly dies during childbirth, it turns out to be one jolt too many for the shocked and distraught Apu, who’s endured personal losses all through his life, and the ensuing meltdown was devastating. The film progressed in an episodic manner despite its linear narrative – the carefree life of the bachelor Apu, the beautifully portrayed quietly blossoming romance between the young couple, and his embracing the life of a vagabond upon her death. His homecoming at the end, therefore, completed the circle for the trilogy, even if symbolically so. And trains here stood as a metaphor for life’s journey, including death. Chatterjee gave a brilliant turn, while Tagore, in her first screen appearance, was also memorable as the young bride.

Director: Satyajit Ray
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Urban Drama
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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