Saturday, December 8, 2007

Apur Sansar (1959)

Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) by Satyajit Ray is a visual and sensual treat - almost like cinema in verse. This was my first Ray film and my first engagement with cinema in art form.

Apur Sansar is the last in the Apu trilogy series, the first being Pathar Panchali followed by Aparajito. If I had seen them in sequence, it may have been a far richer experience. While watching the movie, however, I had no idea of the trilogy or Apur Sansar's place in it. To me the film worked as a standalone piece. And I have been told, so do the other two masterpieces.

The story is set in rural and urban Bengal around the 1930s. The protagonist, Apu, is an unemployed writer living in the squalor of Calcutta city. A serendipitous trip to a friend's village returns him a married man. Love blossoms between him and his angelic wife amidst daily domestic chaos.

However, the journey from solitude to blessed companionship is sweet but short - with the death of his wife during childbirth. Overcome with grief, it takes Apu five years of mindless wandering to come to terms with the loss. In the end, life comes a full circle.

The film's universal theme of loss and redemption makes it timeless. And Ray's effortless and understated direction renders it sublime.

PS: You may have to brave the less than perfect subtitles, for this lesson in cinema. (I watched it on Zee Studio's special series on Satyajit Ray airing every Sunday in December '07.)

[Original pic by wmacphail]