The Unvanquished (Aparajito)

Aparajito

Where are you off to?

Satyajit Ray made his name with Pather Panchali, and given the critical and commercial success coupled with that achievement, (and the fact that the book the film was based off of had a sequel of its own), it stood to reason he’d make another one. As much as I appreciated Pather Panchali, I wasn’t too keen on starting up its sequel, Aparajito, mostly because the technicals of the first one were less than impressive, and I didn’t think I was in the mood for such a film this go-around. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and give it a try, and thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. However, neither was I too overwhelmed. Really, there just wasn’t enough of a story to this one to hold my entire interest.

Our central character of Apu is a little more grown in this one, and grows further by the end of the film through a timeskip. The plot mostly revolves around how he and his family try to keep the meager status quo in the face of setbacks and tragedies thrown their way, which while simple, didn’t have very much in terms of structure or a story arc to follow, so it kinda begs the question of whether or not it’s worth it to even watch this. That, unfortunately, is a question that can only really be answered by watching the film anyway, but this was a decent enough effort that it never really got tedious. As for the technicals, they were pretty much the same as Pather Panchali, which meant they were rudimentary at best, but I did notice some flourishes of camera movement and toying with light and shadow; plus, with the change of setting into a more urban environment for the first half, the production value stepped up a bit, which was nice, and helped.

This was pretty much more of the same of what Pather Panchali had to offer, which is both a good and a bad thing. It can be seen as a little too repetitive and redundant, but at the same time it tries hard to stick to the winning formula of the first film. This was a coming-of-age tale that was actually a little different than most of the others from the list I’ve seen; it didn’t have that all-encompassing nature, trying to be a slice of an entire lifestyle or a snapshot of the times. It was just concerned with how this young, growing lad lives his life, and the decisions he makes along the way, which was just fine. I’m not too sure where else the story has to go from here, as there is one more film in the trilogy, and it made the list as well; other than just following Apu into adulthood, but seeing what the sequel was made of (mostly tragic life event followed by repercussions followed by more tragedy, etc), I don’t know if the last one will be any different. I hope so; Pather Panchali showed a lot of promise, and while this wasn’t as good as that was, it was a decent follow-up, and a good Indian film outside the touches of Bollywood.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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