Apur Panchali, the much awaited film by Kaushik Ganguly which is finally released is based on the life of Subir Banerjee, the iconic child artist who played ‘Apu’ in Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali almost six decades back. Kaushik Ganguly draws on screen the parallel between on-screen Apu’s life and the real life Subir Banerjee’s journey through a cleverly edited three- dimensional narrative. The film uses several minutes of footage from Ray’s Apu trilogy, Pather Panchali, Aporajito and Apur Sangsar. This becomes the first dimension of the narrative. The other two are portrayed by Parambrata Chattopadhyay as Subir Banerjee (young) and Ardhendu Banerjee as Subir Banerjee (old). The movie begins with the original footage of Pather Panchali and from there takes the audience into an engaging journey of the real life unsung hero of Ray. Divulging any more about the plot would kill the magic of the film.
Kaushik Ganguly’s vision and portrayal of Subir Banerjee’s journey is worth appreciating. The way he has intermingled the three dimensions of time and space is very interesting, though at times, the sharp cuts and the jumps in the time frame tends to break the concentration of the audience. But that is negligible.
Ardhendu Banerjee, as the old Subir Banerjee, is very good and convincing. His ordinary looks and mellow disposition fits very well with the lost-in-the-crowd Subir Banerjee’s character. One mustn’t fail to appreciate the director for this choice in casting. Gaurav Chakraborty, who joins Ardhendu Banerjee in this third layer of the story, as Arka, a young student of SRFTI, is also very good. His subtle yet convincing acting sure engages the audience. Back to the second layer, Parambrata Chattopadhyay passes off ok as the young Subir Banerjee. One would have expected much more from him. What becomes a jarring note in an otherwise soothing melody is the actor’s typical mannerisms that show now and then, breaking the trance and harshly reminding the audience that they are watching, not Subir Banerjee, but the actor Parambrata. Parno Mitra, as Subir’s wife, Ashima, has done perfect justice to her role, though it is short. She carries off the looks and attitude of a simple damsel from the village, donning a cotton sari and disheveled hair, very well. One actor worth a thousand mentioning here is Ritwick Chakraborty, who has played the role of Parambrata’s friend. Ritwick, otherwise known for his characteristic acting style and frowns, has broken previous all patterns of his and has played the role of Subir’s friend very convincingly. His underacting and subtlety here is unprecedented and it has added to the quality of the movie. Shobha Sen Dutt plays the character of Ashima’s grandmother and to the veteran cinema and theatre lovers it’s a treat to watch her once more after so long.
The cinematography, by Shirsho Ray is worth mentioning, especially in the black and white second layer of the film. There are also some wonderful shot taking in it that are a treat to the eyes. Bodhaditya Banerjee, the editor of the film, does justice to this three dimensional biopic journey, capering back and forth in time. Especially the intermingling of the original footage from Ray’s Apu trilogy and that of Kaushik Ganguly is rendered very well by the editor. There are no songs in the film. The BGM by composer Indradeep Dasgupta is nice but the original BGM from Pather Panchali by Ray, used in the film, drowns every other music in it. Another must mention is the art direction by Mridul Baidya and Saswati Karmakar. The art direction is so well, especially in the second layer, that it actually transports us to the black and white era of the young Subir Banerjee.
Overall, Apur Panchali is a good watch, a bold experiment by Kaushik Ganguly. It not only gives a new perspective on the real life Apu but it also transports us to the magical era of Ray, once more bringing to life the evergreen scenes from Pather Panchali.
Apur Panchali Theatrical Trailer | Apur Panchali | Parambrata Chatterjee | Ardhendu Banerjee (You Tube)
Apur Panchali Movie Review By:
Ms. Nivedita Dey is a Post Graduate in English from Stella Maris College, Chennai and has been working in the films and television industry since 2006 as a story and script writer and creative consultant. Nivedita has written for TV programs for channels like Star Jalsha, Life OK, Star Plus, Channel 8 etc. Nivedita has spent quite a few years in Mumbai working in the entertainment Industry there and is currently based in Kolkata and is working as a writer and creative consultant for Kolkata’s leading Production House.
Nivedita has keen interest in literature, cinema, social and political issues and enjoys expressing her views by way of guest blogs and articles in popular columns and web portals.