64 years of Pather Panchali (26/08/1955)
Indian cinema’s identity in International spectrum changed the day Pather Panchali, a tragic Bengali family drama, released on August 26, 1955. Based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s 1929 Bengali novel of the same name and produced by West Bengal government, the film is the first part of the famed Apu trilogy. The film depicted the plight of a lower-middle-class family with Apu as the protagonist with his sister Durga, mother Sarbajaya, father Harihar and grandmother Indir Thakrun.
The film was directed by legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray and it is included in Time Magazine’s list of best 100 films of all time in 2005.
Here are 10 off-screen facts about Pather Panchali:
The Roy residence shown in the film was actually a house at Boral in South 24 Paragana, West Bengal. The structure still remains there
The cast did not have a screenplay to follow. They took their cues from Ray’s sketches.
Satyajit Ray took several auditions for the role of Apu. However, he took his wife Bijoya Ray’s suggestion of taking a neighborhood kid Subir Banerjee to play the character.
When Subir’s father hesitated to allow his son to act, Ray had told him, “Today, no one knows your son or me. But I’ll make a film that will change Bengali cinema. Then, all of Bengal will know both of us.”
Due to lack of funds, the movie was shot in pieces over five years. Later on, the Bengal government gave Ray the required money.
Pandit Ravi Shankar had composed the sound for Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray’s mother asked her friend to request the then West Bengal chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy for funds. The chief minister agreed but some government officials did not understand the nature of the film and mistook as a documentary on rural upliftment. Records show that the loan given for the film was termed as “road improvement”, a hint at the film’s title.
The film was sent to the Cannes Film Festival on the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s recommendation. It was named the Best Human Document at the festival.
Ray had rewritten the novel’s plot to represent it on screen.
Pather Panchali was the first Indian film to be appreciated by critics and movie enthusiasts from all over the world, making it the first Indian film to be recognized by the International audience.