Noted Bangla director Anik Dutta’s chronicle of how Satyajit Ray made his iconic debut feature Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito – The Undefeated (2022) is a good life-inspired drama shot in fluid black & white.
A major casting triumph is a lead actor Jeetu Kamal’s stunning likeness to Ray, and how he nails the mannerisms and accent. The ensemble casting and performances are impressive too.
Ray, his dynamics with his wife, mother, and father…needed a deeper, intimate exploration though. It is all too good but for some surface frictions.
The tricky decision for the director was probably – To use the original Pather Panchali visuals or recreate the movie’s making. The director chooses the latter, with mixed results.
There are several interesting anecdotes about how some of the iconic scenes were shot, and how lack of finances ceases shooting for a year.
Names are altered understandably. Ray is named Aparajito, Martin Scorcese is Martin Scottish, etc. The pains and gigantic odds of making an unconventional movie don’t completely come through.
The ten sleepless days and nights for getting the movie ready for a prestigious film festival screening had to be an edgy, thriller-like high. It gets reduced to a bit scene.
Though impressive, this chronicle ends up as a part documentary, rather than an insightful, intense essence of what independent filmmaking was for Ray and his crew.
The enormity of Pather Panchali’s impact comes through in bits and parts, but never in major creative screenplay bursts.
Finally, Dutta gets half there, thanks to Supratim Bohol’s cinematography, and some simple, but superb takes on Ray’s first-time director technicalities. The first-rate performances prop up the movie.
Having seen Pather Panchali, eyes still welled up a couple of places at the magnitude of the achievement. Certainly worth watching for the spirited, robust take. (***1/2 stars / ****)