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Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)

06/05/2015 05:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 05, 2016

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What will they think my neighbors,?" says Apu (Soumitra Chatterjee) in the third installment of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy, Apur Sansar (The Word of Apu, 1959), currently being revived at Film Forum and other theaters. "I'm invited to a wedding and come home with the bride." In another scene Apu, a fledgling novelist is chastened by his friend Pulu (Swapan Mukherjee) "to experience everything." "Is imagination worth nothing?" Apu asks in response. Significantly one of the first jobs the destitute young writer applies for is that of a labeler. Taking one look at the Dickensian workshop, Apu flees, but the scene is prescient. While the first two films in the trilogy Pather Panchali (1955) and Aparajito (1957) are about the awakening of consciousness, Apur Sansar is about action. And the action is more like life than art to the extent that it defies easy categorization. All three movies are based on two Bengali novels by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay and you think the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together. The movie will be the story of a successful novelist who marries into a wealthy family. Yet Apur Sansar defies expectations. Apu literally throws his writing to the wind and in a memorable scene is about to turn his back on the one connection he has left in the world, a little boy, Kajal (Alok Chakravarty), he barely knows. Amidst all this we are confronted with a melodramatic Bollywood style cast which includes a mad groom and would be mother-in-law who treats Apu, as an incarnation of Shiva. And there's even a period of seeming repose-- in which Apu and his new wife Aparna (Sharmila Tagore) fan each other as they eat on the floor of their humble one room abode--an idyll that is soon taken away. The only constant is change might be the motto of the this last of the Apu movies. There's an unforgettable scene in which the rambunctious Kajal appears in the distance. The moment of comfort is followed by the prospect of the literal winding road that faces Ray's protagonist. It's an ending that eludes any clear direction and poses more questions than answers about Apu's prospects and ultimate fate.

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}