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Released between 1955 and 1959, the three films that became known as Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy" introduced a major new filmmaking talent to the world. Based on a classic Bengali novel (The Song of the Road by Bibhutibhusan Banerji), the trilogy traces the life of its young hero, Apu, starting in Pather Panchali with his boyhood in a remote Bengali village. Aparajito ("The Unvanquished") follows his adolescence and growing ambitions in the slums of Benares, while in Apur Sansa ("The World of Apu") the tragic end of an all-too-brief marriage leads to his self-imposed exile and final reconciliation with his young son. Ray, a passionate cinephile with a background in advertising, had no practical knowledge of film-making when, with a group of equally inexperienced friends, a largely amateur cast and infinitesimal budget, he embarked on Pather Panchali. Despite this, his intelligence, acute dramatic instinct and poet's eye created a film that won awards at Cannes and was hailed as a revelation. For the first time in the near fifty years of its existence, Indian cinema had produced an internationally acclaimed masterpiece. Philip Kemp traces the genesis of the film and its two sequels, placing them in the wider context of Indian cinema and of Ray's subsequent career, highlighting the warmth and insight of his direction and analysing the overarching cyclical structure that makes the trilogy such a satisfying and moving experience. Satyajit Ray went on to make nearly thirty more films, many of them more complex and sophisticated than the Trilogy, but this seminal early work still holds pride of place in the affection of his admirers.
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