Aparajito (1956)

Directed by Satyajit Ray
Written by Satyajit Ray and Kanailal Basu from a novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhya
Epic Productions
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental


Sarbojaya Ray: I hope you’re careful on the roads. When are your finals? After that you can get a job and I’ll stay with you. Will you have me? Will that ever be, I wonder? Who knows how long one has to live? Suppose I fall seriously ill… I’m not so well as I used to be. In the evenings I’m often feverish, I’ve no appetite. I thought of telling you… but I couldn’t. I don’t suppose you’d leave college to look after me, would you? Would you use your earnings to pay for me to have treatment? Why don’t you answer me… Apu!

Mothers worry in every age and place.  The second part of the Apu trilogy is as beautiful as the first.

At the end of the first film, Apu’s father had finally found work as a priest in Benares (now known as Varanasai), the spiritual capital of Hindu India on the banks of the Ganges.  This film opens as the family is just getting settled.  They live in a humble building with some good-natured neighbors.  Apu is now a pre-teen and spends more time away from home with friends.  Things are going relatively well.

Still form the Bengali Movie Aparajito (The Unvanquished), Directed by Satyajit Ray - 1956

But Apu’s life seems fated to be haunted by loss.  The family is eventually forced to move to mother’s home village in the countryside.  He is trained in the duties of a priest.  Then Apu goes to school and proves to be a gifted and motivated student.  He graduates second in the whole district and wants to further his education in Calcutta.  It pains his mother to see him go but she is prepared to sacrifice much for the sake of her son’s happiness.  He is not as concerned with hers, as his studies and his friends cause him to spend more and more school holidays in Calcutta.


For me, the joy of this film is in the many small moments of everyday life.  The scenes on the Ganges are magnificent and exotic but so are the quiet times at home.  Everything is stunningly shot.  Clearly, the story is never going to give this family much of a break but somehow it is not depressing.  Recommended.

Restoration trailer for the Trilogy – amazing work was done on the films

4 thoughts on “Aparajito (1956)

    • When you do, be sure to give the little restoration trailer a look. The original negatives went through a nitrate fire and it is truly unbelievable what they did to bring the films up to beautiful quality.

  1. It’s been a while since I saw Aparajito but I will never forget the scene where he goes to the temple of the Monkey God and it’s crawling with monkeys. And he just stares at the monkeys running around on the vines that have grown over the fixtures of the temple. And he grins, probably thinking about what a badass the Monkey God is.

    • Also there’s the part where the mother faces off with the monkey in their home. I’ve always thought that going mano a mano with a monkey would be scary. Those critters are strong! And smart …

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