Apur Panchali (Song of Apu): Film Review

There are films that make money; there are some that make a name for themselves. And there are films that mold you emotionally. Despite the last category of movies being written about rhetorically and spoken of with elusive expressions, they seem to lend a unique experience to each of its viewers. That is the tool not every movie-maker possesses. He puts his craft together in a manner which seduces the audience in more ways than one. 
 
Kaushik Ganguly, known for his films that speak of sexuality, does a turnaround this time over. His attempt at pursuing the story of Subir Banerjee who played the protagonist in Satyajit Ray’s first installment from the timeless trilogy is captivating. Shree Venkatesh Films brings yet another compilation that is fused with the right elements to share the humble story of an actor lost in the crowd, never to look back at his extraordinary childhood. 
 
Parambrata Chatterjee, who plays Subir in his adolescence fits the bill perfectly. Subir Banerjee at a tender age went on to deliver an impressionable performance as Apu in Pather Panchali which is listed amongst the 100 greatest films of all time. The boy who grew up never to act again in films has striking similarities with the journey of the ‘reel’ Apu. Many of the incidents shown from Subir’s life reflect Apu’s loss and tragedy in the film. Ardhendu Banerjee plays Subir in his dotage. The actor’s performance is earthy and honest which is much necessary to show the character’s internal conflict. 
 
The film opens up with interviews of some who were a part of Pather Panchali and knew both Subir and Satyajit Ray, the latter better known as Manik Da. Kaushik’s visionary work makes excellent use of footage from the original masterpiece. A sequence at the airport in which Subir along with a film student is on his way to Germany to receive an award says, “I left Apu, but he never left me”. It is the story of a man who in the midst of responsibilities and commitments silently bids adieu to the medium of moving images.
 
Parno Mitra who has earlier teamed up with Parambrata plays his wife in the film. Her de-glamorized appearance is appealing and realistic. The flashback sequences are done in black and white, which sets the tone for the film and is pleasant to watch. Indraadip Dasgupta’s only piece of music has notes that leverage the emotional quotient of Apur Panchali. It plays repetitively in a loop which does at moments interfere with the melancholy, which is the film’s identity. But the screenplay often borrows this sweet concoction that makes it even more likable. 
 
Although based on a true story, Kaushik Ganguly’s film is not simply a biopic. It is sensitive and unfurls gently giving the viewer enough time to ogle at every frame. It is often said, cinema has no language; cinema is a language. I realized this was true while I was at the Pune International Film Festival where Apur Panchali was screened and I, along with the rest of the audience, from my land and abroad, gave the film a standing ovation. 
 
Apur Panchali releases in India on April 25, 2014. 
 
By Soham Bhattacharyya

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1 Comment

  1. PRIYABRATA MALLICK

    March 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Apur Panchali (2014) (Bengali) relese

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