Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Pather Panchali (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Pather Panchali (1955, India) (aka Song of the Road, or Lament of the Path)

In Indian director Satyajit Ray's first film, the low-budget, visually-poetic, coming-of-age drama (the greatest Indian film of all-time) - the first of an "Apu Trilogy" followed by Aparajito (1956) (aka The Unvanquished) and Apur Sansar (1959) (aka The World of Apu) - with its realistic portrayal of low-class poverty in India - backed by sitar ragas of famed Ravi Shankar:

  • the point of view of the protagonist Apu (Subir Banerjee) - the youngest child of a small Brahmin family in an impoverished, rural Bengal village, led by Harihar "Hari" Ray (Kanu Bannerjee), a well-intentioned dreamer (playwright and poet) and part-time priest, but not always a good provider for his overworked, self-sacrificing, harried wife Sarbojaya Ray (Karuna Bannerjee)
  • the character of elderly, stooped-backed, toothless, wrinkled crone-aunt Indir Thakrun (Chunibala Devi) (Hari's elderly cousin), who did nothing to discourage Apu's older sister Durga (Uma Das Gupta) from stealing fruit from the neighbor's mango grove once owned by her family
  • the progression of simple daily life and survival, including meal preparation, the children chasing after the candy vendor, teasing, or playing
  • Durga's and Apu's favorite past-time - awaiting the thundering roar and whistling of an approaching train - and watching the big steam engines pass by (a symbol of promise and the future) from an adjacent meadow of tall grass and rice fields, and in one instance on their return, their discovery of their Auntie's starved-to-death, slumped-over body
Tall Meadow of Grass and Rice Fields - Passing Train
  • the scenes of torrential and deadly monsoon rains and whistling winds that decimated the landscape, and brought a lethal chill of pneumonia to young Durga; as she was very ill and tended by her mother, the winds shook the door of their hut - with the accompanying image of Ganesh (the beloved, good-luck Hindu deity with an elephant's head) illuminated by the flickering flame of an oil lamp; when Durga perished from fever and respiratory exposure in the arms of her mother, the flame went out - and the statue of Ganesh was only visible during lightning flashes
  • the sequence of Harihar Ray's long-overdue return home after being away for five months to seek work - bringing gifts of a wooden board and rolling pin, and a picture of goddess Lakshmi for his wife ("Our worries are over. I'm back" - he reassured her) - and the eloquent wordless, grieving moment when Harihar realized that his daughter Durga had died in his absence (he had brought her a new sari) - his sobbing wife sank to the ground clutching the sari
Durga's Illness and Death
Statue of Elephant-Headed Ganesh - Seen in Flashes of Lightning
Wife's Grieving Reaction to the Death of Durga Once Hari Returned
  • in the film's conclusion, the family's bittersweet departure and move (sitting on the back of a bullock-cart) from their ancestral home to the city of Benares to find better living conditions

Brahmin Family's Wife

Apu (Subir Banerjee)

Aunt Indir Thakrun with Apu's sister Durga

Slumped Over Aunt Discovered Dead

Family's Departure on Ox-Cart


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