Finally, I found the movie that I had been looking for since the moment I fell in love with cinema. I can’t explain how I felt really. This film has consumed my whole being. This is definitely the best film I have seen to date.
FRAME, SCORE & SETTING
I love black that’s why I was so amazed by how a BW print was so beautifully framed that it expresses spectacular hues. The lighting was superb and the cinematography was breathtaking. The camera angles, distant, high-angled shots as well as the close-up shots were perfection. Considering that this was a very old film where technology was very limited and was the debut work of the DOP Subrata Mitra added to the wow factor of the cinematography. I was so amazed with the train scene, dancing in the rain, auntie’s shadow during storytelling, the casting out of Durga, and the family’s departure. They are not just feast-in-the-eyes but conveyed emotional dynamics. The beautiful frame was complemented with a sublime score. The sound of sitar was not only soothing to the ears but had reached deep into my soul. I can’t believe this was the first musical score done by Ravi Shankar. What I like most was the song of death Auntie was singing. It was pure and heartbreaking, each note resonates to my heart and echoes to my soul. That scene was poignant that tears kept rolling down my cheeks. The BGM under the rain and the closing scenes were both spine-chilling. Every sound in this film was majestic as a matter of fact even the silence was astonishing. The shooting location was perfect for the film. The backdrop of a village of Boral in the outskirts of Calcutta was frame-worthy including everything in the location like the river, the house, the train track, and the forest. But the half-ruined house for me was not only a shooting location but a story in itself. It had exemplified strong family relationships despite hardships. The walls with large open windows where Durga always sneak was a depiction of innocence and purity of the heart of Durga and Apu.
CHARACTERS AND ACTING PERFORMANCES
All the characters were penned to be beautiful and lovable. There was no real antagonist in this film and each character possessed distinct characteristics that symbolize human nature. Auntie with her deformities depicts resiliency that she didn’t want to be a nuisance until her last breath. Sarbojaya, though loving and caring became hopeless as she absorbed all the hardships for the family during Harihar’s absence. Harihar is intellectual but impractical and had so much hope in humanity and the world. Durga (my favorite character) though had committed many sins is sweet, loving, and selfless. Apu wearing his innocent smiles is playful and high-spirited. Some actors in this film were amateurs but they all surrendered to their persona with utmost sincerity. Apu and Durga stole my heart from the first moment I saw them. The authenticity on their expressions as their eyes glowed when they saw the man selling sweets, they teared up when they saw Auntie in the woods, and they hugged each other during the rain were beyond words.
SCREENPLAY, DIALOGUE, AND DIRECTION
This for me is the best feature of this film. How it was able to portray the harshness of humanity, the cruelty of life, poverty, hunger, death, and desperation as well as love, and simple joys through the innocent eyes of the children were so moving. The narrative style was slow-paced but impactful. It gave much attention to details which enabled the story to grow in my heart. Characters were well developed that’s why I was able to relate and empathize with them making that climax a heartbreaking blow. As I mentioned earlier, Sir Satyajit Ray did not make any of his characters a real antagonist. Instead, all of them were victims of the real villain – that is life. The dialogues were exquisite and edifying enough to stir every audience’s heart and emotion. The movie was done subtly. Every frame depicted a deeper meaning about family dynamics, and love for the human race through realism. With heartfelt storytelling, symbolism and metaphors, raw performances, aesthetic frames, seamless editing, and melancholic, and sublime score the movie was a perfect expression of pain and resolution, desperation and hope, love and angst, and cruelty, and humanity.
The movie had left a void in my heart that I’m still crying long after the credits roll. I am feeling the same way now as I write this review. This masterpiece had changed my life and had left a lasting impression on me. This is definitely the best debut film I’ve seen in the cinephile life. Having learned the hardships Sir Satyajit Ray had gone through from conceptualizing, sketching, writing, shooting, to fund sourcing which took three years of his life to producing this masterpiece was an epitome of a true master of his craft. Salute to Sir Satyajit Ray for sharing such cinematic craftsmanship. A film where every frame is a painting and even silence is magical. This is not a movie, this is poetry…. this is life.