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Pather Panchali U

Part of Staff Picks 2023
Part of South Asian Heritage Month: Stories to Tell
Satyajit Ray, India, 1955, 122m.

"Never having seen a Satyajit Ray film is like never having seen the sun or the moon – Akira Kurosawa

Set almost entirely in a remote Bengal village, Satyajit Ray’s debut, Pather Panchali, revolutionised Indian cinema and unveiled his enduring artistic voice to the world.

Satyajit Ray was inspired by the example of Italian neo-realist films to make his own low-budget, open-air drama painting a naturalistic portrait of ordinary lives. Encouraged by Jean Renoir, whom he assisted during the filming of THE RIVER (also screening in the season), Ray set to work on an adaptation of a 1929 novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay about a young boy growing up in an impoverished rural community.

Pather Panchali centers on young Apu and the family who shapes his youth in delightful and heartrending ways. Accompanied by the incomparable score by composer Ravi Shankar, Apu traverses the village with wonder, curiously observing the ebbs and flows of rural life.

Despite a shoestring budget and a crew of relative newcomers and non-actors, Ray constructed a film of modesty and eloquence. With resplendent photography informed by its young protagonist’s perpetual sense of discovery, Pather Panchali, which won an award for Best Human Document at Cannes, is an immersive cinematic experience and a film of elemental power.

This film was proposed by our member Greg Gordon and local families from Holborn Community Association. To propose your own screening, log into your members’ account to visit the Members’ Area.

Our screening on 9 August 2023 was introduced by Anupma Shanker, a British-Indian film curator and archives researcher, with a deep and evolving interest in colonial & post-colonial screen narratives. 

Subir Banerjee, Uma Das Gupta, Karuna Banerjee, Kanu Bannerjee

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