Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Blind Spot Series: Apur Sansar

Based on the novels of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) is the story of a young man coping with being a writer as well as becoming a family man while struggling with himself. Written for the screen and directed by Satyajit Ray, the film is the third and final film of a trilogy films that plays into the life of Apu Ray as he becomes an adult as he deals with responsibility and identity as he is played by Soumitra Chatterjee. Also starring Sharmila Tagore, Alok Chakravarty, and Swapan Mukherjee. Apur Sansar is an extraordinary and rapturous film from Satyajit Ray.

The film plays into Apu becoming an adult as he deals with finishing his studies and desires to become a writer as he later copes with tragedy and strange circumstances where he also learns about being a father. It’s a film that has Apu not just trying to find himself as a man but also see what he could as a husband and father. Satyajit Ray’s script doesn’t rely on plot but does have plot-points where the first act is about Apu struggling to find work while continuing to make something of himself as a writer. When he’s asked by a friend to attend the wedding of his cousin, Apu reluctantly goes where certain situations happens and Apu is the one that ends up being married to a beautiful young woman in Aparna (Sharmila Tagore). While the marriage starts off with some hesitation, it does give Apu more to do as well as provide Aparna a broader view of the world as their marriage is shown for its second act. By the film’s third act, tragedy occurs that would force Apu to do drastic things as it relates to not just loss but also identity as he ponders more about himself and what to do with his life.

Ray’s direction is definitely engaging for not just where the film picks up from its predecessor but also what has changed as the film is set during the period of World War II. Shot in location in Calcutta as well as parts of rural India, the film plays into a world where Apu is trying to make it in the city but is still entrenched into his rural roots. Ray’s usage of wide and medium shots capture the vast beauty of the locations but also have something that showcases a world that is ravishing in its sense of tradition but also one that is changing in what is happening in Calcutta. Ray’s usage of close-ups do play into Apu’s own sense of grief and loss in its third act while there is an intimacy for the scenes with Apu and Aparna when they arrive at Apu’s apartment. There are also bits of humor in the way the two begin to fall in love as it Ray showcases that glimpse of happiness Apu would encounter but also what would lie ahead.

The direction also plays into this sense of struggle in what would happen to Apu in the film’s second half as he tries to make it as a writer while finding work in order to provide for his family. The element of tragedy would play into this third act where Apu wanders off as if he has no clue where he is going nor what is he going to do. Ray’s compositions become much richer for scenes where Apu looks at the sun while being on a mountain as it plays to not just everything Apu lost but also wonders if the freedom that he’s gain from these losses in his life brought any meaning to them. Especially as it relates to his own son whom he had very little clue about as it forces him to ponder what role he would play for this boy. Overall, Ray creates an exhilarating yet evocative film about a man coming to terms with loss and identity.

Cinematographer Subrata Mitra does incredible work with the film‘s black-and-white photography in capturing the richness of the locations whether it‘s the rainy look of Calcutta to the more ravishing look of the mountains and jungles as well as some of the film‘s interiors. Editor Dulal Dutta does excellent work with the editing in utilizing dissolves and montages to play into the drama as well as the evolution into Apu and Aparna‘s marriage. Art director Bansi Chandragupta does brilliant work with the look of Apu‘s apartment in Calcutta to the home of his friend where he would meet Aparna. Sound recordist Durgadas Mitra does terrific work with the sound from the raucous sound of the railway station that Apu lives nearby to the calm and atmospheric sounds of the mountains and rivers. The film’s music by Ravi Shankar is amazing for its sitar-driven score that plays into the dramatic elements of the film along with some string and woodwind-based pieces that play into some of the somber and upbeat moments of the film.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Abhitjit Chatterjee as Aparna’s brother, Dhiresh Majumdar and Sefalika Devi as Aparna’s parents, Dhiren Ghosh as Apu’s landlord in Calcutta, and Tusar Banerjee as the man Aparna was supposed to marry on her wedding day. Alok Chakravarty is fantastic as Apu’s son Kajal who would be raised by Aparna’s parents as he has very little idea who his father is as he acts out to the chagrin of his grandfather. Swapan Mukherjee is brilliant as Apu’s friend Pulu who looks over Apu’s work as a writer to see if it’s good for publishing while being the one to introduce him to Aparna who is his cousin. Sharmila Tagore is amazing as Aparna as a young woman who reluctantly marries Apu after her first attempt in an arranged marriage falls apart where she copes with his poor lifestyle but eventually realizes his worth as she falls for him. Finally, there’s Soumitra Chatterjee in a remarkable performance as Apu as this man coping with trying to find himself while dealing with new responsibilities in his life where he later endures loss and uncertainty.

Apur Sansar is a phenomenal film from Satyajit Ray. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous images, a riveting story, and Ravi Shankar’s incredible score. The film is truly an engrossing study into the world of adulthood as well as loss and identity as it is also a fitting conclusion to a great trilogy of films. In the end, Apur Sansar is a tremendous film from Satyajit Ray.

Satyajit Ray Films: Pather Panchali - Aparajito - (Parash Pathar) - The Music Room - Devi - (Teen Kanya) - (Rabindranath Tagore) - (Kanchenjungha) - (Abhijan) - The Big City - Charulata - (Two) - (Kapurush) - (Mahapurush) - Nayak - (Chiriyakhana) - (Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne) - (Aranyer Din Ratri) - (Pratidwandi) - (Sikkim) - (Seemabaddha) - (The Inner Eye) - (Ashani Sanket) - (Sonar Kella) - (Jana Aranya) - (Bala) - (Shatranj Ke Khilari) - (Joi Baba Felunath) - (Hirak Rajar Deshe) - (Pikoo) - (Sadgati) - (Ghare Baire) - (Sukumar Ray) - (Ganashatru) - (Shakha Proshakha) - (Agantuk)

© thevoid99 2016


ruth said...

I usually love films about writers. The premise of this one intrigues me, I should give this a shot!

thevoid99 said...

It's not really about writers but rather about a man as this film and the rest of the Apu Trilogy is a must-see. Get it from Criterion when it's on sale.