Anik Dutta's Aparajito -- The Undefeated, in glorious new black and white, is a charming primer and entry point into the world of Satyajit Ray. It is not a biopic, but details show Ray struggled to make his first film, Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), in 1955. That movie catapulted him and Indian cinema to international attention when it won the Best Human Document Award at Cannes. It is a familiar but fictionalized story: the older generation is awash in nostalgia but speaks warmly to the younger generation, too, as practically every other youngster dreams of making a film some day. Dutta's earlier, acclaimed work, sometimes flecked with satire and political commentary, includes the horror-comedy Bhooter Bhabishyat (2012), the satire Bhobishyoter Bhoot (which was banned upon its release in 2019), and Borunbabur Bondhu (2020).
Aparajito chronicles Ray's struggles to make a film outside Bombay's stifling mainstream template, without a hero and heroine, romance, or songs. Ray's debut is about two kids, Apu and Durga, and their joys and sorrows growing up in a Bengali village. There are charming insights, such as how legendary cinematographer Subrata Mitra had never held a moving camera before this film, and how, thanks to confusion around the English title, the Bengal chief minister accidentally redirected funds meant for the Siliguri highway to a film called Song of the Little Road! The film is not a roman à clef but a film à clef, with the names of all the characters and films changed for legal reasons yet still recognizable.
|Directed by||Anik Datta|
|Written by||Anik Datta, Sreeparna Mitra, Utsav Mukherjee|