List Item: Watch Roger Ebert’s “The Great Movies”
This is probably the only time that this will happen in this blog where one film satisfies both the Ebert challenge and the World Cinema challenge. This is one of those films that tends to appear on lists as part of a trilogy, and it has taken me well over a year to get round to seeing the second film.
Okay, so I have never seen a stereotypical Bollywood Indian film (mostly because I don’t like the look of them) and this is only the third Indian film I have seen after Salaam Bombay! and Pather Panchali. I know at some point I will see one of the most singing and dancing Indian movies but I guess I will get around to them at some point.
No matter how good a film that is the second in a planned-trilogy is it always tends to feel like it is just inbetween. Aparajito starts a year or so after Pather Panchali where Apu and his parents leave their ancestral home after a series of tragic incidents leaving them in poverty. Where Pather Panchali takes place in a fairly short time Aparajito initiates a time-jump half way through to age him from a pre-teen to a sixteen-year-old; something which really helps to move the film on.
Whilst the trilogy is all about the maturation of a young Indian boy into a man this film is really at its strongest when it is examining the relationship between Apu and his mother. Where Apu is growing up and realising his potential to not follow in his father’s spiritual footsteps there is his mother who, over the previous film and a half, has pretty much lost everything good in her life. Her daughter, her husband, her social standing and now her son has discovered just how bright he is and wants to study far away. Her reluctance to allow him to move away to continue his studies and her the depression and illness she spirals into is tragic and, since this blog is a place of honesty, made me want to give my mother a big hug.
The ending of this film sees Apu choosing to completely abandon his village roots to life as an educated man in the city of Kolkata. It leaves the door wide-open for the third and final movie (mostly because this film ends part-way through the book) and I hope it takes me less time to finally get round to finish off this trilogy.