| 1959, India.
106 min, B/W, In Bengali with subtitles.
||Satyajit Ray Productions
|Screenplay & Direction:
||Satyajit Ray; based on the
novel "Aparajita" by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee.
||Pandit Ravi Shankar
|Apu, Apurba Kumar Roy:
Apur Sansar is the third and final film of the The
. Apu (Soumitra
) is now a graduate and without a job. He lives
in a rented room next to a busy railway yard. He finds himself
among a large population of the unemployed youth in the city.
To pay his rent, he has to sell his books. The job search turns
out to be an amusing and a tormenting experience.
Unfazed, He is writing a novel based on his life, which he hopes
will make him famous. His life takes a turn, however, when he meets
his old friend Pulu. He coerces Apu to travel to his ancestral
village to attend the wedding of his cousin, Aparna (Sharmila
). On the boat ride to the village Pulu reads Apu's manuscript
and appreciates the work.
On the day of the wedding, the bridegroom turns out to be mentally
deranged and the wedding is canceled. The villagers believe if
she is not married before the auspicious hour passes, the ill-fated
bride can never be married again. Apu primarily of out sympathy
for the bride and some convincing by Pulu, agrees to be the substitute
groom. He has not even seen her yet.
The marriage takes place and Apu and his young wife return to his
Calcutta apartment. Soon, a warm and caring relationship develops.
Apu willingly takes up the clerical job that he has so far avoided.
The marital bliss, however, is short lived.
Pregnant, she goes to her parents' place and dies during the childbirth.
Apu's world shatters as he receives the news of Aparna's death.
Sunken in grief, he refuses to even see the child whom he holds
responsible for his wife's death. He leaves Calcutta to lead the
life of a wanderer.
About five years pass, Apu's friend Pulu, who had been abroad,
is shocked to find the child growing wild and not cared for. Pulu
goes in search of Apu and requests to take responsibility for his
Reluctantly, Apu comes back to the village. On seeing Kajal, Apu
is overwhelmed by affection. Now it is the child who refuses to
accept him as his father. Apu wins over the little boy. The child
accepts him as a friend, though not as a father yet. United, they
leave for Calcutta to make a new beginning.
In Apur Sansar, Ray introduced two new actors who would become
regulars for Ray films, Soumitra
played Apu and Sharmila
played his young wife Aparna. By way of experience,
Soumitra Chatterjee was a radio announcer and had only played a
small role in a Bengali stage production and Sharmila was just
a fourteen-year-old with no previous acting experience. As the
shooting began, Ray had to shout instructions to Sharmila during
the takes. None of this, however, is reflected on the screen. Both
tuned out be quick learners and gave memorable performances.
Soumitra Chatterjee played many roles in Ray's later films (15
films) and became the most sought after actor in Bengali cinema.
Sharmila Tagore went on to become a very successful actress in
Bombay's Hindi films. She returned to work in later films of Ray
such as Devi
Aranyer Din Ratri and Seemabaddha.
The sequences of Apu and Aparna in Calcutta, are the most striking
and cinematic part of the film. In the beginning of the film, we
have seen Apu's room as a bachelor's apartment. Now there are two
pillows on the bed, curtains on the windows and a plant on the windowsill.
The apartment has a clear touch of a woman's presence. Apu awakes
and finds a hairpin lying between the pillows. Still lying in the
bed, Apu observes Aparna with a fixed gaze as she goes about doing
the household chores. Aparna asks, "Haven't you seen your wife
before?" Apu smiles, plays with the hairpin and picks up his
pack of cigarettes. As he opens the pack, he finds a note from Aparna
inside, "You promised not to smoke more than one after meals!"
Apu smiles again and puts the pack away. With simple actions and
situation, the intimacy is established. After seeing the film, Renoir
is said to have remarked that intimacy had been suggested without
showing even a single embrace.
Later in the film, Aparna is leaving to be at her parents' place
for childbirth. She lights a match to light the cigarette that
Apu has put in his mouth. The flame brings a glow to her face.
Apu asks, "what is in your eyes?" "Kajal" (mascara
/ kohl), she replies with a mischief. Lather, the son born to her
would also be named "Kajal".Aparna dies off-screen. Her
brother brings the bad news. This is a lyrical and inspired sequence.
Apu is working and carrying Aparna's letter in his pocket. Towards
the end of the day, he can no longer wait to read the letter. A
touching letter is heard in Aparna's voice. Apu in interrupted
by a fellow clerk.
He takes out the letter again to continue reading on his way home
in a crowded tram. A passenger peeps over his shoulders to read,
forcing him to put the letter back again. He finishes reading the
letter during the walk home by the railway yard. With Aparna's
voice still in his mind, he sees her brother waiting for him. Apu's
smile vanishes; he senses something wrong. As Aparna's brother
conveys the news of her death, Apu looses control. His world is
shattered. He slaps the messenger, staggers to his room and collapses
on the bed.
What follows is a long, wonderful and speechless sequence; dealing
with Apu's grief. Satyajit Ray describes in 'My Years with Apu'
- "The grief-stricken Apu lies in bed for days. ... At one
point, however, Apu rises from the bed. He hasn't got over his
grief. He stands leaning against the wall. The camera moves to
the shaving mirror to show his blank look. Off screen is heard
the screech of a train whistle. Apu reacts. The camera moves closer
to his face. His eyes have a new look. The screen turns white.
There is the sound of a rushing train and smoke rises from the
bottom of the screen in what is now established as sky. The camera
moves back to show Apu in close up, obviously standing by the railway
track. The smoke approaches, then we see the engine. Apu, his face
still a blank, slowly leans forward, preparing to throw himself
before the train. Suddenly, a screech is heard. It is the cry of
a pig, which has been run over by the train. Apu's spell is broken
and with it his determination to take his own life.
In he final moments of the film, Kajal has rejected Apu. When
Apu's father-in-law is about to strike Kajal with a stick because
he has refused to leave with Apu, Apu rescues Kajal instinctively.
A hint of trust begins to develop. Apu starts to walk away as he
has given up hope of earning Kajal's love. But Kajal has now decided
to trust Apu. He runs away to join Apu as grandfather watches from
a distance. Apu sweeps up Kajal in his arms. Both leave for a new
life together with Apu carrying Kajal on his shoulders. Apur Sansar
was a big box office success both at home and abroad.
What others say
"Rich and contemplative, and a great, convincing affirmation." -
- President's Gold Medal, New Delhi, 1959
- Sutherland Award for Best Original And Imaginative Film, London,
- Diploma Of Merit, 14th International Film festival, Edinburgh,
- Best Foreign Film, National Board of Review of Motion Pictures,
Other Films of The Apu Trilogy
Other Online Reviews
Sansar, by Murali Krishnan
Sansar, by James Berardinelli
Sansar, Satyajit Ray Film & Study Collection
Sansar, Basement Films
Sansar, Jeff Vorndam, AboutFilm.com
- 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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Apu's room in Calcutta, a sketch by Ray ©Ray Family
Apu in his room ©Teknica
Aparna on the day of the wedding ©Teknica
Apu and Aparna arrive in Calcutta ©Teknica
Aparna and Apu in Calcutta
Pulu asks Apu to take responsibility for his son ©Teknica
Apu sees his son for the first time ©Teknica
Apu and his son unite ©Teknica