So much has been written about ‘Pather Panchali’. I can’t add anything new nor can I describe the performance of Chunibala Dasi as Indir Thakrun. Many people thought the film projected poverty. I think the film is about human dignity even though it revolves around an impoverished Brahmin family.
I saw ‘Aparajita’ for the first time when I was of Apu’s age. I can’t recall how I felt. Perhaps, I had seen the film from Apu’s perspective. I must have cried when the mother died. How perspectives change, with the passage of time. It is not merely passage of time but the context that also matters. Then I was a son. Now I am a father.
When I saw the film few years ago, it was altogether a different experience. I have not seen any film which has depicted mother-son relationship so honestly. The film is about Apu’s growing up and moving away from his mother. This time I saw the film from the perspective of a mother. It was not deliberate. It just happened. My sympathies were always with the mother. I did not cry when the father or the mother died. I cried when Apu left for Kolkata or when mother waited for Apu. Her pride would not let her vent her feelings. There was loneliness but there was hope that one day Apu will become something. In the film the happiest moment for me was when Apu deliberately misses his train for Kolkata so that he could be with his mother. I felt I am a part of the happiness.
I would like to remember ‘Apur Sansar’ for the sheer chemistry between the two first timers - Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore.