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Pather Panchali


FredCDobbs
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*Pather Panchali* (P?ther P?chali, [pɔt̪ʰer p?tʃali], English: Song of the Little Road) is a 1955 Bengali drama film directed by Satyajit Ray and produced by the Government of the Indian state of West Bengal. Based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay's 1929 Bengali novel of the same name, the film was the directorial debut of Ray. The first film of The Apu Trilogy, it depicts the childhood of the protagonist Apu in the countryside of Bengal in the 1920s.

 

Though the film had a shoestring budget of Rs. 150,000 (US$3000),[2] featured mostly amateur actors, and was made by an inexperienced crew, Pather Panchali was a critical and popular success. Influenced by Italian neorealism, Satyajit Ray developed his own style of lyrical realism in this film. The first film from independent India to attract major international critical attention, Pather Panchali won "Best Human Document" at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, establishing Satyajit Ray as a major international filmmaker. Pather Panchali is today considered one of the greatest films ever made

 

*PLOT AND SPOILERS:*

 

Harihar Ray (Kanu Banerjee) earns a meager living as a priest in the village Nischindipur, and dreams of a better career as an author of scholarly plays and poems. Harihar's wife, Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee) takes care of their two children, Durga (Uma Dasgupta) and Apu (Subir Banerjee), and her elderly aunt-in-law, Indir Thakrun (Chunibala Devi). With limited resources, Sarbajaya resents having to share her home with Indir. Indir is very old, toothless, and a hunchback cripple. Occasionally, she takes refuge in the home of another relative when Sarbajaya either forces her out or becomes overly offensive. Durga often steals fruit from a neighbour?s orchard and shares it with Aunt Indir, with whom she feels filial affinity. Once, the wealthy neighbour blamed Durga for stealing a bead necklace. Sarbajaya bears the neighbour's innuendos blaming her for Durga?s propensity to steal.

 

Durga, as the elder sister, cares for her brother Apu with motherly affection, although she does not spare any opportunity to tease him. They share the simple joys of life, such as sitting quietly under a tree, running after the candy man who passes through the village, viewing pictures in a bioscope shown by a travelling vendor, and watching a jatra by a troupe of actors. In the evening, they can hear the whistle of trains far away. One day they run away from home to catch a glimpse of the train. The scene depicting Apu and Durga running through Kaash fields to see the train is one of the memorable sequences in the film.[3] While returning from seeing the train, they discover their Aunt Indir lying dead.

 

Harihar, unable to make a good earning in the village, decides to travel to cities to seek a better job. He promises Sarbajaya that he would return with money to repair their derelict house. During his absence, the family sinks even deeper into poverty. Sarbajaya grows increasingly lonely and embittered. One day, during the monsoon, Durga dances playfully in the downpour for a long time. Soon she catches cold, and develops a fever. With scarce medical care available, her fever continues and eventually on a night of incessant rain and gusty winds, she dies. Harihar returns home and starts to show Sarbajaya the merchandise he has brought from the city. Sarbajaya, who remains silent, breaks down at the feet of her husband, and Harihar screams as he discovers that he has lost his daughter. The family decides to leave the village and their ancestral home. As they start packing, Apu finds the necklace that Durga had earlier denied having stolen; he throws it into a pond. Apu and his parents leave the village on an ox-cart. Almost immediately upon their departure, a snake crawls into the house.

 

*MORE HERE:*

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pather_Panchali

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You beat me to it, though I was going to laud it for its magnificence, and thank TCM for filling the last great vacancy in presenting works by the great directors of the world. Why it took so long to show a film by Ray is puzzling, but let's hope it's the beginning of a lot more of them, especially the other two films in the Apu trilogy.

 

Ray is one of a few directors who tell ostensibly simple tales, seemingly of mundane things, with no great apocalyptic events, yet nevertheless involve the viewer powerfully in the lives of the characters. Others I can think of include Ozu, Kiarsostami, and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. But among all of these, Ray reaches a level of humanity in his films none other achieves.

 

I'd also like to highlight the music in the movie, which I think contributes considerably to its effect, by the great Ravi Shankar. As Ray was developing a revolutionary method of filmmaking, so was Shankar developing new forms of Indian music. It was energetic, positive, motivating, to match the spirit of the newly emerged independent nation and it's eagerness for the future. Ray and Shankar collaborated on a number of films and, to an extent, developed their forms in tandem.

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Slayton, maybe I'm hallucinating but I think TCM has shown some of his films before.

 

I've seen it in a theatre but remember seeing it on tv in the last few years, and who else but TCM would have shown it?

 

Also, my tv is almost glued in place to TCM so I am hardly on any other channels...

 

But I could be wrong.

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There may be problems in getting the rights to his films. At one point TCM had announced showing all three of the Apu films in the same month, but then the schedule was changed.

 

I'd love to see a month-long tribute to Satyajit Ray like the one for Truffaut.

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I have been mistaken in the past, but Ray's films are something I've continually looked for. As I said, it was the one great omission in the pantheon. Not only to enjoy them for myself, but also to introduce them to others not familiar with his work. He truly tells his stories with a level of humanity unmatched by any other director. Although Pather Panchali has a bleak aspect, and his films are records of conflict and struggle, the tenor of his work is affirmative and joyful--as the Apu trilogy bears out. I have seen many of his films on YouTube, and the UCSD television station, but not, to my memory on TCM.

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