Pather Panchali [1955]

Genre: Drama
Pather Panchali tells the story of a family inching slowly and irrevocably, over the course of several years, toward the edge of financial and emotional disaster. In a rural Bengali village, circa 1919, Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee) recites sacred texts and performs religious rites for a living. He dreams of being a playwright, but he must support his growing family. His wife, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee) must suffer her husband's long absences as he searches for work and the hostile pity of extended family members who are better off financially and socially. Her daughter, Durga (Uma Das Gupta), has the bad habit of stealing mangoes from the neighboring orchard, which adds to her mother's shame. When a son, Apu (Subir Bannerjee), is born, things seem to be looking up for the family. But it is only a short-lived illusion. First films don't come any better than Pather Panchali. Made in 1955 by Satyajit Ray, this truly remarkable feat of storytelling is a must-see kind of movie. Ray reveals a gift for presenting stories that unfold gently, one engaging scene at time. This film delivers an amazing emotional punch that will linger in your consciousness for some time, not in spite of, but because of its simplicity. The story is based on the novel of the same title, written by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee. Shot in glorious black and white, it runs for 115 minutes. The script is by Satyajit Ray, the music by Ravi Shankar. --Luanne Brown

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