Thursday, 8 May 2014
Apur Panchali 
The ingeniously thought-out, innovatively structured and deeply heartfelt saga Apur Panchali, filled with humanism and packed in with strong emotional wallop, tells us whatever happened to Subir Banerjee, who’d played the iconic role of Apu in Ray’s landmark debut feature, after the credits had rolled. It comprised of three parallel narrative strands – the ‘present’, shot in colour, showed an ageing, retired and forgotten Subir (Ardhendu Banerjee), a social recluse and forever haunted by memories of the only film he ever acted in, being coaxed by a young film student (Gaurav Chakrabarty) to accept an invitation from the German government which has chosen Apu as the greatest child character in cinema, and the unlikely bond that forms between them in the process; the ‘past’, shot in luminous B/W, chronicled through the prism of memory the life of a younger Subir (Parambrata Chatterjee), his simple middle-class life and job, his marriage (to Parno Mitra), his friendship (with Ritwik Chakbraborty), and the small joys and heartbreaking tragedies that defined his life; the third and most powerful strand lay in regularly intercutting at various key moments in Subir’s past with archival footages from Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, which marvelously showed the uncanny similarities between his and Apu’s journey, and added to the film’s emotional intelligence. All the performances were restrained and affecting, with the one by Ardhendu being the standout of the lot; the theme music, which was a play on Ravi Shankar’s unforgettable score, was also good, if tad overused. This fabulous Kaushik Ganguly film thus managed to be a memorable homage to Ray’s seminal ‘Apu Trilogy’, and more than that, a heart-rending ode to legendary child actors who disappeared through the cracks after their brief moment under the sun.
Director: Kaushik Ganguly
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Biopic