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Pather Panchali (Song of the Road)

 

Year 1955
Producer Govt. of West Bengal
Distributor Govt. of West Bengal (NFDC, Mumbai for overseas distribution)
Screenplay Satyajit Ray
Based on The novel Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee
Photography Subrata Mitra
Editor Dulal Dutta
Art Director Bansi Chandragupta
Music Ravi Shankar
Sound Bhupen Ghosh
Length 115 min.
Print Black & White

Cast:

Harihar Kanu Bannerjee
Sarbajaya Karuna Bannerjee
Apu Subir Bannerjee
Durga Uma Das Gupta/Runki Bannerjee
Schoolmaster Tulsi Chakravarty
Mrs. Nilmoni Aparna Devi
Indir Chunibala Dev
Rich Neighbor-Woman RajLaksmi Devi

The story revolves around a poor Brahmin family in early years of the century in Bengal. The father, Harihara, is a priest who is unable to make ends meet to keep his family together. The mother, Sarbajaya, has the chief responsibility for raising her mischievous daughter Durga and caring for her elderly aunt Indir, who is a distant relative and whose independent spirit sometimes irritates her. With the arrival of Apu in the family, scenes of happiness and play enrich their daily life.

Life, however, is a struggle, so Harihara has to find a new job and departs, leaving Sarbajaya alone to deal with the stress of this family's survival, Durga's illness and the turbulence of the monsoon. The final disaster, Durga's death, causes the family to leave their village in search of a new life in Benares.

In spite of poverty and death the film leaves one not depressed but moved, filled with the beauty, and subtle radiance of life. The film suggests an intimate relationship between loss and growth or destruction and creation.

Ray's comment on this film: "It is true. For one year I was trying to sell the scenario, to peddle it... since nobody would buy it, I decided to start anyway, because we wanted some footage to prove that we were not incapable of making films. So I got some money against my insurance policies. We started shooting, and the fund ran out very soon. Then I sold some art books, some records and some of my wife's jewelry. Little trickles of money came, and part of the salary I was earning as art director. All we had to spend on was raw stock, hire of a camera and our conveniences, transport and so on... I had nothing more to pawn."

The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.