21 January, 2021

Apu In Self-Exile

His world was my world. Till the cement wall came down.

Apu In Self-Exile

I never found Apu’s flat, where he lived with his flute, his books, his accidental wife, where he lived, briefly, with her death, and where at least once a year, I too live with him. I was 20 or 21 years old when I first saw Satyajit Ray’s The World of Apu. It was playing at the Apollo Theatre in Times Square. Even now, getting off at the Times Square Station, I think Calcutta. I see Soumitra Chatterjee on his verandah in the monsoon rain above the desolate railway tracks. It is rare to carry a film around inside you. You can’t fold it into squares like a poem and keep it in your pocket. You must rely on the intangible projectionist of memory.

Apu is a film about youth, art, death and the spirit’s rebirth. I have changed a lot since I first saw Apu. But Apu has never changed. Just once, I would like to see him climb out of his black-and-white orbit and read to me the parts of his novel that he threw, page by page, with robotic hands, from a mountain top. It was strange arriving for the first time in...



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