029 - The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)

The Apu Trilogy is, surprisingly a film about a boy called Apu. It is split into three masterpiece films - each alone worth their own credit.

It begins with Pather Panchali, where Apu is born into a poor family living in the Indian countryside. His family consists of his mother (the housekeeper and cook), his father (a priest and speaker), his crazy old aunt and his sister, Durga.

The story tells of a young boy growing up, and having to deal with everyday problems. Most of these are completely foreign to Western society, but as his family's numbers slowly diminish it becomes a story that becomes easy to relate to both in sadness and in pity.

Aparajito tells of Apu's progression into adolescence. His family move to the city to try and earn a better wage, but they barely fare any better off. His father soon dies, leaving his mother seemingly Rupee-less. They move back to the country with their landlady, and Apu develops a taste for education. This natural inquisitiveness is rare in modern culture, where technology has often replaced desire to learn and it is refreshing.

Apu's education comes to an end in The World Of Apu as he finds he cannot afford it anymore. He ends up getting married - albeit almost accidently and apologetically - only to find more sorrow in his life as his wife dies in childbirth. Finally, he is reunited with his son, leaving the trilogy on a happier note.

Satyajit Ray's work with this famous Bengali story is extraordinary. He has taken mere scribbles from a piece of paper and transformed them into arguably India's finest cinematic export. While it may seem slow on the whole, it is a thoroughly rewarding story that feels both foreign and empathetic simultaneously.