| 1956, India.
113 min, B/W, In Bengali with subtitles.
||Epic Films (Satyajit Ray)
|Screenplay & Direction:
||Satyajit Ray; based on the
novel "Aparajita" by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee.
||Pandit Ravi Shankar
|Harihar, the Father:
|Sarbajaya, the Mother:
||Pinaki Sen Gupta
|Bhabataran, old uncle:
||Ramani Sen Gupta
1920. Harihar, Sarbajaya and their ten-year-old son Apu, live
in the Temple City of Banaras (Varanasi) on the banks of the holy
river Ganga (Ganges). Harihar earns a meager living by reciting
religious scriptures. The film opens with Apu wandering and exploring
the city. He also encounters their neighbor Nanda Babu, who would
soon make a pass at Sarbajaya.
Harihar falls ill with fever and collapses at the riverbank. In
the early hours of the next morning, Sarbajaya wakes Apu to fetch
holy water from the river to put in his father's mouth as he is
dying. Harihar's death leaves mother and son to fend for themselves.
The mother decides to return with Apu to live in a village where
an old uncle works as a priest. Apu's mother works to support the
family. Apu is initiated into priesthood and takes over the old
man's work. He is unhappy because he wants to go to school. Apu
persuades his mother to send him to school. She makes sacrifices
so that he might pursue his studies.
Apu, now sixteen, wins a scholarship and departs for Calcutta,
leaving her alone. It breaks Sarbajaya's heart, but she relents.
Her health is failing, and the loneliness in the village takes
Engulfed in city life - studying during the day and working in
a printing press at night to pay for his expenses - Apu grows away
from his mother. His visits get shorter as the time passes. This
emotional distance unnoticed by the growing Apu, hurts Sarbajaya
deeply. She waits silently for her son's visit as her illness accelerates
and falls into a depression.
On a night sparkling with dancing fireflies, Sarbajaya dies. Apu
comes back to an empty house. He grieves for his mother, but soon
finds strength to leaves the village for the last time, to carry
on with his new life in the city ...
Aparajito is the second film in "The
", preceded by Pather
and followed by Apur Sansar
The film is basically about Apu growing up and growing away from
his mother. The highlight of the film is the mother-son relationship
and conflict. The characterization of Apu and mother are a treat.
Karuna Banerjee gives a brilliant performance as Sarbajaya.
As usual, the film is devoid of excesses both in form and content.
The two deaths, of Harihar and Sarbajaya, are handled with great
At dawn Harihar lies ill with Sarbajaya sitting beside him though
the night. He mumbles, "Ganga". He is asking for a sip
of holy water from the river 'Ganga'. Sarbajaya wakes Apu to fetch
water from the holy river. Apu brings the water. Sarbajaya lifts
Harihar's head and pours the water in his mouth. Harihar's head
drops back on the pillow. Cut to a shot of a flock of pigeons taking
off and whirling in the sky. Harihar has been freed of his misery.
In the sequence of Sarbajaya's death - Evening, Sarbajaya is sitting
leaning against a tree outside her house, awaiting Apu's return.
A train passes but she does not react, as she knows Apu is not
on this train. Next, we see her sitting in the verandah of the
house, expressionless. Suddenly, she hears Apu calling her. She
is hallucinating. Hoping that Apu has returned, she drags herself
out. As she stands looking for Apu, she sees a group of fireflies
swirling by the pond.
Filming of this scene posed a technical challenge, as even the
fastest available film stock could not capture the light emitted
by the fireflies. Ray and his crew overcame the problem with an
indigenous solution. Ray recounts in his 'My
Years with Apu
', "... We chose the toughest members of
our crew, had them dressed up in black shirt and trousers and let
each of them carry a flashlight bulb and a length of wire and a
battery. The bulbs were held aloft in their right hands while they
illustrated the swirling movements of fireflies in a dance, alternately
connecting and disconnecting the wire to the bulbs ..."
- Golden Lion of St. Mark, Venice, 1957
- Cinema Nuovo Award, Venice, 1957
- Critics Award, Venice, 1957
- FIPRESCI Award, London, 1957
- Best Film and Best Direction, San Francisco, 1958
- International Critic' Award, San Francisco, 1958
- Golden Laurel for Best Foreign Film of 1958-59, USA
- Selznik Golden Laurel, Berlin, 1960
- Bodil Award: Best Non-European Film of the Year, Denmark, 1967
Other Films of The Apu Trilogy
Other Online Reviews
- Aparajito, by
by Damian Cannon. Copyright © Movie Reviews UK 1998
Summary: Aparajito (The Unvanquished), Robert E. Yahnke, © 2001,
Professor, General College, Univ. of Minnesota
by James Berardinelli
(The Unvanquished), by John Hartl
Satyajit Ray Film & Study Collection
Trilogy, Chicago Sun-Times Inc.
- The Apu Trilogy, by
Roger Ebert. March 4, 2001. Chicago Sun Times
- The Apu Trilogy, "Art
wedded to truth must, in the end, have its rewards". by Richard Phillips
- The Apu Trilogy,
by Rob Mackie. March 21, 2003. The Guardian
- The Apu Trilogy, etc.,
by Martin Paule Micro Movie Reviews collection for Shelterbelt Cinema Channel, world
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Boy Apu, played by Pinaki Sen Gupta ©Teknica
Apu and Nanda Babu ©Teknica
Sarbajaya, Apu and Harihar in his final moments ©Teknica
Sarbajaya and Apu ©Teknica
Adolescent Apu and Sarbajaya ©Teknica
Headmaster and Apu ©Teknica
A sketch of Headmaster by Ray ©Ray Family
Adolescent Apu played by Smaran Ghosal ©Teknica