Winner of the 1957 Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Aparajito (Bengali – The Unvanquished) is the unplanned follow-up to Pather Panchali and forms the second of The Apu Trilogy, such was the commercial and critical success of the earlier film.
Aparajito starts where the family has moved to Varanasi following the death of Apu’s sister and continue to live in penury. But the father dies unexpectedly, forcing Apu and his mother, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee – Pather Panchali, Headmaster), to return to rural Bengal as servants to a wealthy family.
As with its prequel, Aparajito is achingly beautiful and continues director Satjayit Ray’s exploration of the everyday universal struggles of life, death and tragedy. Apu (Smaran Ghosal) leaves for Calcutta to pursue his education, distancing himself from his roots and, controversially at the time, his mother.
It’s an almost flawless continuation of Pather Panchali. A narrative of time and place, as Apu moves on following the years of sacrifice made by his mother, Aparajito may not reach the heights of Ray’s first feature, but it’s a deeply moving, evocative stand alone of a film.