Hark back to Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito!

In the year 1957, on the same date (September 25), at the 18th Venice Film Festival, the magniloquent Indian film Aparajito had won the Golden Lion and the Critics Award. This is the first Indian film to accomplish such an accolade.

Aparajito, which literally means the unconquered, is a Bengali film written and directed by Satyajit Ray. The film was released in 1956. This film is the second part in Apu Series — the sequel of Ray’s preceding film Pather Panchali.In real fact, Ray had no ideas of following it up with a sequel when he made Pather Panchali. However, the critical and commercial success of the film impelled him to twitch the creation of Aparajito. There is a chief makeover between the first part (Pather Panchali) and the second part (Aparajito). In the case of Pather Panchali, Ray hung around what exactly the novel rendered. But in Aparajito, Ray took creative verdicts. For example, he depicted the relationship between Apu and his mother in a very diverse way from the novel. Consequently, it was not acknowledged well by the locals.

However, critical reception outside of India was prodigiously encouraging. It won as many as 11 international awards, including the Golden Lion and Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. Thus, it became the first ever film to win both. It received many applauds from numerous great film directors — both native and foreign. It was thus concluded as one of the most critically acclaimed movie sequences of all times.

More than Aparajito, it is the creator of the movie, who is called to mind, the most, for his artistic marvels. As observed by Akira Kurosawa, a Japanese film director and screenwriter, the characteristics of all films of Satyajit Ray include the quiet but deep observation, understanding, and love of the human race. Further, he held Satyajit Ray as a giant of the movie industry.

Satyajit Ray could be held one among the great controllers of world cinema. He is the master storyteller, who left a filmic inheritance that belongs as much to India as to the world. He is branded for his humanistic approach to cinema. Despite the fact that he made his films in Bengali, his films are of widespread interest. The films are about things that framework the human race — emotions, relationships, conflicts, struggle, joys, and sorrows.

The movies of Satyajit Ray have certain matchless features. His films establish an extraordinary humanism, intricate reflection and intelligent treatment of characters and situations. In a nutshell, the cinema of Satyajit Ray is an unusual combination of intellect and emotions. His movies portray an acceptable compassion without using melodrama or histrionic immoderations. He developed a filmmaking style that is virtually invisible. He strappingly believed that the best technique is the one that’s not noticeable.From his first film, Pather Panchali to his last film Agantuk, Satyajit Ray maintained the same style in films. All his films are both cinematic and literary. At the same time, he used a simple narrative, typically in a classical format, but momentously thorough and operational at many levels of elucidation.

Satyajit Ray was a multifaceted film-maker. For some films, he designed the sets and costumes. He operated the camera and even composed the music for all his films since 1961. He designed the publicity posters for his several movies. He was a writer and a graphic designer too. One more important thing is Satyajit Ray invented a new typeface.

Satyajit Ray has not only brought laurels to the Bengali film alone but also set standards for the World Cinema in general, and Indian Cinema specifically.                              

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi