Aparajito, a film from India, directed by Satyajit Ray
1-World Festival of Foreign Films
HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD


Aparajito
India - 1957
Directed by Satyajit Ray

A review by Damian Cannon.
Copyright © Movie Reviews UK 1998


Continuing Satyajit Ray's honest and sensitive portrayal of one Bengali boy's life, Aparajito leads Apu into adulthood and further heartbreak. After the crushing blow that brought Pather Panchali to a close, Apu's father Harihar (Kanu Banerji) has relocated the family to Benares. Here he can earn a living working as a Brahmin priest, conducting Hindu rituals by the Ganges; this is the heart of the city, where many come to bathe, beg and peddle on the ghats. To bolster this meagre income, he also dispenses herbal medicine to those too poor, or too wary, to see a real doctor. In this way he keeps the three of them together; himself, his wife Sarbojaya (Karuna Banerji) and Apu (Pinaki Sengupta).

Unfortunately they are far from wealthy, forcing them to rent rooms in a dingy, frequently monkey-infested, apartment block. In the central square there is a single tap, shared by the tenants, beside which Sarbojaya spends most of her time. Every day she seems fearful of harassment, particularly by new arrivals such as Nanda Babu (Charu Ghosh). This is the legacy of leaving their birthplace for the city. Ironically Sarbojaya is as isolated here as she was in the country, trapped by the family's situation. Only Apu seems truly content, roaming the alleys with other boys and amusing himself. The family has no money to pay for school fees, so Apu gains his education on the streets.

In creating Aparajito, Ray has fashioned a study of truth, about how things are rather than how we would like them to be. Apu's family is far down the social hierarchy and in grave danger of slipping further, seemingly beset by tragedy at the worst possible moment. This is a time of inner and outer turmoil for Apu, torn from his old friends by external forces and disorientated by the hormonal urges of his growing body. Ray latches onto this emotional conflict, revealing its nuances. Aparajito doesn't just evoke fear, it contains the fear of losing (someone else), the fear of driving (someone else) away and the fear of being forgotten (by someone else). For the empty spaces, Ray encourages you to substitute both Apu and Sarbojaya; each suffers when Apu departs for a university education in Calcutta.

Much like Pather Panchali, this episode is dominated by Sarbojaya. For all of her subservience, her desire to keep to the shadows, Sarbojaya is the central axis of Aparajito. Once Apu's father has departed, as in the earlier film, it is just her and Apu; the emotional ties are simple, even if the ramifications are not. Yet because Karuna Banerji is relegated mostly to the sidelines, it's difficult to judge her performance; apart from brief instants where a look speaks of pain, hope, despair and love, Sarbojaya spends her life waiting. Karuna reacts when someone or something disturbs her equilibrium, otherwise she remains in stasis -- paralysed by the fear that change can only make her life worse, as it has done so often before. It's a subtle role to play and Karuna does an excellent job of conjuring up the maternal bond.

It is, however, Smaran Ghosal, as the adolescent Apu, who really stokes the fire of Aparajito. With the first frame of his arrival, the movie jumps into life; you suddenly realise that while the first half was interesting, it wasn't exactly compelling or cohesive. What Ghosal embodies is the fundamental dislocation of youth. He can, must, wants and needs to enter a new world, yet this means tearing himself from the old, leaving a part of his soul behind in the process. This is a transition brilliantly distilled by Ray into a scene of classical resolution. Apu doesn't want to return to Mansapata, because that means leaving Calcutta, yet he loves Sarbojaya. The result: guilt. So Apu convinces himself that he can't study at home (exams loom), then sends a proxy (a small sum of money) as a familiar compromise. Ray doesn't dwell on this decision or its significance but Ghosal makes it embarrassingly vivid.

The problem is that relative to this later emotional complexity, the beginning of Aparajito is both slow and often unfathomable. Ray lets the story hop around with little explanation, sketching the bustle of Benares without placing the family as a family in this context. There are plenty of scenes with Apu, Harihar and Sarbojaya by themselves but few of them together; Ray assumes that you've seen Pather Panchali, giving a background perspective. Still Ray's feel for the coupled themes of independence and abandonment is superb, informed by an ability to capture fleeting emotion on film. Occasionally his framing is superb, particularly when the camera is looking through a doorway; a metaphor for transition, separation and closure, Ray uses these apertures to full effect. Mix in Ravi Shankar's complementary traditional score and you have Aparajito, an imperfect but affecting journey.

1commentbutton.gif (2143 bytes)

1-Back Button.gif (599 bytes)Back to India 

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools

Visit...

1-World Globes
Online Showroom
World Globes
of every size and description



Click Here to visit:
1-World
Adventures

Adventure Travel Specialists

1-World
Global Gifts
Gifts with a "global theme"




Enter to Win
a World Globe !!



Historical Map
Reproductions



Map Wall Murals


Gift Clocks



Gemstone Globes


More Geography Tools


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyright©1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyright©1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyright©1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyright©1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.


Classroom
Maps & Globes




Bulletin Board Maps


Hand Painted Furniture
Accent Furniture
visit..

1-World Decor



Global Accent
Furniture



Old World Globe Bars

 

HOME      CHOOSE-A-COUNTRY        BIOGRAPHIES        DOCUMENTARIES      SEARCH      POST-A-REVIEW      CONTACT 1-WORLD      HOME
1-World Festival of Foreign Films

Copyright©1998-2017, 1-World, LLC. All rights reserved.