Had the good fortune of watching Ray’s masterpiece on the big screen recently. Would have loved to watch the three movies back to back but had to split them up. Saw Pather Panchali first, followed by the remaining two (together) within a few days. At least I watched them in sequence, which was necessary to fully appreciate the story.
I had seen the movies earlier but it must have been a while back because I hardly remembered anything. That turned out to a blessing in disguise as I was engrossed throughout. Had forgotten how beautiful the movies were, especially Pather Panchali. I can say without a doubt that it is the best of the three. It seems to be the most sincere and also, the most realistic. The siblings, Apu and Durga, share an amazing relationship that is portrayed with so much tenderness that it moved me to tears several times. Their mother manages to convey a myriad of emotions through her face alone, as the family goes through several situations. The scene where Durga is accused of stealing and thrown out of the house, then forgiven and called back for a meal is very moving. The tension builds up to a delicious climax, and then, in the last frame, the audience breathes a sigh of relief and smiles along with Apu.
Aparajito is set partly in Benaras. Having visited the city in 2011, it was fascinating to see how the city looked like in the 50s. I loved the scenes on the ghats, the narrow cobbled streets, and the monkeys! Neither of these have changed much in the last several decades. The monkeys still torment the temple goers, snatching their offerings and enjoying a good meal in the process. It is quite a spectacle!
I found Apur Sansar to be the weakest of the three. Don’t get me wrong, these three movies are some of the best to have come out of the sub-continent, but if I were to rank them, I would do so in their order of release. Apur Sansar seemed a tad bit like a Bollywood flick, what with an all dolled up Ms Tagore providing the glamour quotient to the film.
It would have been interesting to see how the movies would have turned out if they had all been made together. For me, Pather Panchali remains the favorite. I’m glad I got a chance to watch the series again after all these years. This time around, my older self was able to appreciate the movies a lot more.