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definition - Aparajito

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Title card
Title card
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Produced by Epic Films (Satyajit Ray)
Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
Based on Pather Panchali and Aparajita by
Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
Starring Kanu Banerjee
Karuna Banerjee
Pinaki Sen Gupta
Smaran Ghosal
Ramani Sen Gupta
Charaprakash Ghosh
Subodh Ganguly
Music by Ravi Shankar
Cinematography Subrata Mitra
Editing by Dulal Dutta
Distributed by Merchant Ivory Productions / Sony Pictures Classics (In US)
Release date(s) 11th October, 1956
Running time 113 minutes
Country India
Language Bengali

Aparajito (Bengali: অপরাজিত Ôporajito; English: The Unvanquished) is a 1956 Bengali film directed by Satyajit Ray, and is the second part of The Apu Trilogy. It is adapted from the last one-fifth of Bibhutibhushan Bannerjee's novel Pather Panchali and the first one-third of its sequel Aparajito.[1] It focuses on the life of Apu from childhood to college. The film won eleven international awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It is followed by the third part of the trilogy, The World of Apu.



The film begins with Apu's family getting settled in an apartment close to a ghat in Benares. Here Apu (Pinaki Sengupta) makes new friends. While his mother Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee) stays at home, his father Harihar (Kanu Banerjee) works as a priest. On a Diwali day, Harihar develops a fever and rests, as Apu comforts him. The next day, he leaves for his work as usual towards the ghat, ignoring his wife's advice to rest. While coming back to home, he collapses on the stairs of the ghat, and dies soon afterwards.

  Apu and his mother

In Harihar's absence, it becomes Sarbajaya's responsibility to earn money for the family. She starts working as a maid. A relative invites them to return to their ancestral village in Dewanpur (in Rajshahi Division, modern-day Bangladesh). They settle in a village called Mansapota. Apu asks his mother to send him to a school. Apu studies diligently and receives a scholarship to go to Calcutta (now Kolkata). Sarbajaya does not want to let her son leave. She gives in and helps him prepare to leave.

Apu (Smaran Ghosal) starts working at a printing press after school. Sarbajaya expects visits from him, but Apu manages to visit only a few times and feels out of place in Mansapota. Sarbajaya becomes seriously ill, but does not disclose her illness to Apu. One day while waiting for him, she hears his voice at the doorstep and goes to see him, but finds only the noise of monkeys in the trees and a pond of fireflies as she begins fainting. When Apu finally comes to know about her poor health, he leaves for the village and finds that she has already died. A relative requests him to stay back there and to work as a priest. Apu rejects the idea. He returns to Calcutta and performs the last rites for his mother there.


  • Pinaki Sen Gupta - Apu (Boy)
  • Smaran Ghosal - Apu (Adolescent)
  • Kanu Banerjee - Harihar, Apu's father
  • Karuna Banerjee - Sarbajaya, Apu's mother
  • Ramani Ranjan Sen - Bhabataran, old uncle
  • Charu Prakash Ghosh - Nanda Babu
  • Subodh Ganguly - Headmaster


Subrata Mitra, the cinematographer for The Apu Trilogy, made his first technical innovation with this film: the introduction of bounce lighting. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers:[2]

The fear of monsoon rain had forced the art director, Bansi Chandragupta, to abandon the original plan to build the inner courtyard of a typical Benares house in the open and the set was built inside a studio in Calcutta. Mitra recalls arguing in vain with both Chandragupta and Ray about the impossibilities of simulating shadowless diffused skylight. But this led him to innovate what became subsequently his most important tool — bounce lighting. Mitra placed a framed painter white cloth over the set resembling a patch of sky and arranged studio lights below to bounce off the fake sky.


Aparajito won the Golden Lion at the 1957 Venice Film Festival, and to date remains the only film sequel to ever win the grand prize at the prestigious Venice, Berlin or Cannes Film Festivals. Ray also won the Golden Gate awards for Best Picture and Best Director at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1958 for this film.[3] The film also won the Bodil Award for Best Non-European Film of the Year at Denmark in 1967.[4]

Film critic James Berardinelli wrote:

"Aparajito was filmed forty years ago, half way around the world, yet the themes and emotions embedded in the narrative are strikingly relevant to modern Western society (thus explaining why it is called a "timeless classic")... Aparajito is an amazing motion picture. Its rich, poetic composition is perfectly wed to the sublime emotional resonance of the narrative. For those who have seen Pather Panchali, Aparajito provides a nearly-flawless continuation of the journey begun there. Yet, for those who missed Ray's earlier effort, this film loses none of its impact. On its own or as part of the Apu Trilogy, Aparajito should not be missed."[5]


In 1992, Sight & Sound (the British Film Institute's film magazine) ranked The Apu Trilogy at #88 in its Critics' Poll of all-time greatest films,[6] while Aparajito itself was ranked separately at #127 on the same list.[7] In 2002, a combined list of Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll results included Aparajito in its top 160.[8] In 1998, the Asian film magazine Cinemaya's critics' poll of all-time greatest films ranked The Apu Trilogy at #7 on the list.[9] In 1999, The Village Voice ranked The Apu Trilogy at #54 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list, based on a poll of critics.[10] In 2001, film critic Roger Ebert included The Apu Trilogy in his list of "100 Great Movies" of all time.[11] In 2005, The Apu Trilogy was included in Time magazine's All-Time 100 greatest movies list.[12] At Rotten Tomatoes, Aparajito has a 93% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 14 reviews, with a 100% fresh rating based on reviews from top critics.[13]

Smaran Ghosal who played the role of adolescent Apu, at the age of 14, did only one more film, documentary Rabindranath Tagore (1961), also made by Ray, where he played young Rabindranath Tagore. Smaran died in 2008 in Kolkata, at the age of 64.[14]


According to Michael Sragow of The Atlantic Monthly in 1994:

In the four decades since Ray's debut as a writer-director — with the first Apu movie, Pather Panchali (1955) — his influence has been felt both in the type of work other directors attempt and in the means they employ to execute it. The youthful coming-of-age dramas that have flooded art houses since the mid-fifties owe a tremendous debt to the Apu trilogy, which Terrence Rafferty has rightly called "cinema's purest Bildungsroman." (In baggy-pants homage to Ray, American TV's cartoon-burlesque Bildungsroman, The Simpsons — which could be called "The Education of Bart Simpson" — contains an Indian convenience-store owner named Apu.)[15]

Across the world, filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese,[16][17] James Ivory,[18] Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Kazan and Wes Anderson [19] have been influenced by The Apu Trilogy, with many others such as Akira Kurosawa praising the work.[20] In Gregory Nava's 1995 film My Family, the final scene is duplicated from the final scene of Apur Sansar. Similar references to the trilogy are found, for example, in recent works such as Sacred Evil,[21] the Elements trilogy of Deepa Mehta and even in films of Jean-Luc Godard.[22] The technique of bounce lighting developed by the cinematographer Subrata Mitra for Aparajito has also had a profound influence on the development of cinematography.[2]

  Awards and nominations

Venice Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
  • Winner - 1960 - Selznick Golden Laurel for Best Film
British Film Institute Awards, London Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Winner - 1958 - Golden Gate for Best Picture
  • Winner - 1958 - Golden Gate for Best Director - Satyajit Ray
  • Winner - 1958 - International Critics' Award
Bodil Awards (Denmark)
Golden Laurel (United States)
  • Winner - 1958-1959 - Best Foreign Film [2]
British Academy Film Awards (United Kingdom)


  1. ^ Robinson 2003, p. 94
  2. ^ a b Subrata Mitra, Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers, http://www.cinematographers.nl/GreatDoPh/mitra.htm, retrieved 2009-05-22 
  3. ^ Aparajito, San Francisco Film Society, http://history.sffs.org/films/film_details.php?id=255&searchfield=aparajito, retrieved 2008-05-29 
  4. ^ Bodilprisen (1960-69), Filmmedarbejderforeningen, http://www.filmkritik.dk/1b.lasso?n=4, retrieved 2008-05-29  (Danish)
  5. ^ James Berardinelli. Reel Reviews URL accessed on 3 April 2006
  6. ^ Aaron and Mark Caldwell (2004), Sight and Sound, Top 100 Movie Lists, archived from the original on 2009-10-25, http://www.webcitation.org/5kn8wR5KE, retrieved 2009-04-19 
  7. ^ SIGHT AND SOUND 1992 RANKING OF FILMS, archived from the original on 2009-10-25, http://www.webcitation.org/5knIaH1FO, retrieved 2009-05-29 
  8. ^ 2002 Sight & Sound Top Films Survey of 253 International Critics & Film Directors, Cinemacom, 2002, http://www.cinemacom.com/2002-sight-sound.html, retrieved 2009-04-19 
  9. ^ Totaro, Donato (31 January 2003), "The "Sight & Sound" of Canons", Offscreen Journal (Canada Council for the Arts), http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/canon.html, retrieved 2009-04-19 
  10. ^ Take One: The First Annual Village Voice Film Critics' Poll, The Village Voice, 1999, archived from the original on 2007-08-26, http://web.archive.org/web/20070826201343/http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/take/one/full_list.php3?category=10, retrieved 2006-07-27 
  11. ^ Roger Ebert (4 March 2001), The Apu Trilogy (1959), rogerebert.com, http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20010304%2FREVIEWS08%2F103040301%2F1023, retrieved 2009-04-19 
  12. ^ "All-time 100 Movies", Time (Time Inc), 2005-02-12, http://www.time.com/time/2005/100movies/the_complete_list.html, retrieved 2008-05-29 
  13. ^ Aparajito at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ Aparajito’s Apu dies, Calcutta, India: The Telegraph (Kolkata), July 12 , 2008, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080712/jsp/calcutta/story_9538935.jsp 
  15. ^ Sragow, Michael (1994), "An Art Wedded to Truth", The Atlantic Monthly (University of California, Santa Cruz), http://satyajitray.ucsc.edu/articles/sragow.html, retrieved 2009-05-11 
  16. ^ Chris Ingui, Martin Scorsese hits DC, hangs with the Hachet, Hatchet, http://media.www.gwhatchet.com/media/storage/paper332/news/2002/03/04/Arts/Martin.Scorsese.Hits.Dc.Hangs.With.The.Hachet-195598.shtml?norewrite200607071207&sourcedomain=www.gwhatchet.com, retrieved 2006-06-29 
  17. ^ Jay Antani (2004), Raging Bull: A film review, Filmcritic.com, http://www.filmcritic.com/misc/emporium.nsf/reviews/Raging-Bull, retrieved 2009-05-04 
  18. ^ Sheldon Hall, Ivory, James (1928-), Screen Online, http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/532213/index.html, retrieved 2007-02-12 
  19. ^ On Ray's Trail, The Statesman, http://www.thestatesman.net/page.arcview.php?clid=30&id=172929&usrsess=1, retrieved 2007-10-19 
  20. ^ Robinson 2003, p. 96
  21. ^ SK Jha (2006-06-09), Sacred Ray, Calcutta, India: Telegraph India, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060609/asp/etc/story_6319302.asp, retrieved 2006-06-29 
  22. ^ André Habib, Before and After: Origins and Death in the Work of Jean-Luc Godard, Senses of Cinema, http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/16/godard_habib.html, retrieved 2006-06-29 


  • Robinson, A (2003), Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker, I. B. Tauris, ISBN 1-86064-965-3 .

  External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Fail Safe
Bodil Award for Best Non-European Film
Succeeded by
Bonnie and Clyde


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