Aparajito -One of the Best Films Ever- based on the novel of the same name
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This the second part of the trilogy Apu.
It was listed by TIME Magazine as one of the best 100 films, a compilation that you can find here:
In the first part, Pather Panjali (noted here: http://notesaboutfilms.blogspot.ro/2017/03/note-on-acclaimed-pather-panchali.html ) the family of Apu suffers a double tragedy, with the death of Apu’s sister and aunt.
They move to Benares, but there is a similar poverty, if not complete destitution and some repellent practices.
One character talks about the money he saved and that he needs to have 500 rupees in order to get a bride.
Even today, from what I know, families prefer to have boys and when they see the sex of the baby during pregnancy and she is a girl they opt for abortion.
On account of the backwardness, lack of education in rural areas and slums, many women are attacked.
That is made worse by the lack of sanitation and plumbing, with many people using the outdoors for necessities and therefore exposing women to violence and rape.
The face of India that we see in this gem is a gentle one, if really poor, the streets crawling with animals.
Of course, the presence of cows, even in schoolyards and monkeys is part of the tolerant tradition and religion of India.
There is a small, funny scene wherein Apu’s mother fears one of the monkeys and stands back, although the mood of the film is rather dark.
In the temples, there are monkeys everywhere and Apu feeds them, together with other men and women.
In this poverty, there is sharing: when the family of Apu needs matches, for they are that destitute, a neighbor is happy to oblige.
Alas, death strikes again and this time it is Apu’s father, the priest who had to make a daily effort in the scorching heat.
When the father dies, there are many black birds flying, in a scene that has reminded me of Poe and Hitchcock.
One aspect which seemed to have gotten worse is the train ride, which in those days was better than I see in photos today.
Although crowded inside, at least the trains we see in this film did not have crowds on top and hanging on the side.
With the death of the family head and the only bread winner, the Apu family has to reconsider the future.
A neighbor offers help, suggesting that they move again, this time in the countryside in the state of Bengal.
Apu wants to go to school, but that costs money and they have practically nothing, except for a few rupees saved by mother.
If he wants to have an education he has to work and study, with the perspective of becoming a priest like his father.
He has a conflict with his mother at a later stage, when the option of going to Calcutta- or Kolkata as it is called today- is raised.
She wants her son to stay in the village, with her and respect the tradition which would dictate that he becomes a priest.
But the boy is brilliant and he wins the second place in the whole district, in spite of having to be only a part time student.
In school, there is an interesting scene when the inspector comes and invites pupils to read about the state of Bengal:
- It the greenest of them all
- The language is like no other…
Finally, Apu is allowed to go to study in Calcutta, where he has to work again, after he is finished with class, in the afternoon.
His effort in the printing shop takes a toll and he is falling asleep in class, attracting his expulsion from one subject.
But Apu will have time to recover and we will see in the last part his probable rise and accomplishments.