30 September, 2020

Everyman Is An Apu

Ray created one motif: a sensitive rural youth journeying to urban amorality

Courtesy: So Many Cinemas by B.D Garga
Everyman Is An Apu
The great chronicler and interpreter of contemporary India is also its master of understatement. Satyajit Ray’s most famous work, Pather Panchali, marked the beginning of a discovery of India for himself and for the educated middle class, silently observing how the other half lives.

But observation is a form of intervention; the discovery of India resulted in a discovery of cinema as well. Pather Panchali invented the language it needed to tell its story of an educated Brahmin family fallen on evil days. What makes it poignant is the depth of human relationships in which it enfolds its characters, the warmth of observation with which it unfolds its slender narrative.

The youth who emerges out of the colonial past, rural and urban, in the three films of Apu’s childhood, adolescence and youth (the Apu trilogy) is, quintessentially, a product of the India of Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru; in other words, of the interaction of East and West, of the Enlightenment and the Upanishads.

In recalling the trilogy, particularly Pather Panchali, we are...



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