Tuesday, October 28, 2014

347. Apur Sansar/The World of Apu (1959)

Running Time: 107 minutes
Directed By: Satyajit Ray
Written By: Satyajit Ray, from the novel Aparajita by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Main Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Swapan Mukherjee, Alok Chakravarty, Sefalika Devi


It was my goal this week to try and bang out as many movies/reviews as I could and I think I've been doing a pretty decent job, probably on one of my strongest movie watching streaks all season - trying my best to get some of that fire back as we head into the home stretch and closer and closer to only having one hundred movie remaining.

The final piece of the Apu Trilogy is "The World of Apu" and we once again revisit with the child we were introduced to in Pather Panchali. This time around, Apu (Chatterjee) is now a full grown adult, living in shoddy digs, barely able to pay his rent (he's three months behind - that's twenty-one rupees!) and trying to breakout as a writer. He has aspirations of writing a great novel, which he begins to write. Bumping into his old friend Pulu (Mukherjee), the two reminisce before Pulu invites Apu to his sister's wedding. Apu really doesn't want to go, but finally gives in. Once there, the groom backs out of the ceremony (cold feet, I guess?) and fearing his sister's disgrace, Pulu asks Apu if he'll step in and marry her instead (I can't make this stuff up). Reluctantly Apu agrees and the two newlyweds live happily ever after....well, not quite, as that only puts us at about the thirty or so minute mark. The bride is named Aparna (Tagore) and Apu hesitantly brings her back to his shoddy household, which he's embarrassed to even let a woman see, let alone his new wife. She doesn't care, however and the two actually hit it off. THE BOOK points out that it's one of the best and happiest marriages to ever exist in fiction and I'd be hard pressed to disagree. Apparently Indian custom dictates that when a woman gives birth she must be in the presence of her parents or something, because when it's time for Aparna to have their child, she returns home to her mother and father. While away tragedy strikes, but it's the Apu trilogy, so you really should have been expecting some sort of tragedy, right?


This movie has a few plots all rolled into one movie. We've all seen movies where strangers are somehow forced into marriage and have to make it work (usually comedies) and we've seen movies where a mother dies during childbirth only to have the father and child have to somehow bond without that vital missing piece (usually dramas), yet The World of Apu somehow and seamlessly stitches together both plots into one movie and the result....well, the result wasn't that great for yours truly. There's just something about these movies that alienates me and doesn't let me in. It's like looking into someone else's window in Christmas Eve. You see the whole family in there: mom, dad, grandma and even crazy uncle Joe. They all look like they're having a blast, they're happy, they're smiling, they're tearing open gifts and it's as if there's not a bad memory in sight. However, as good as it all looks, you still know you don't belong and that you have your own family waiting back home - your own crazy uncle Joe. This sums up my relationship to the Apu trilogy pretty well, I think. There's nothing wrong with these movies, but they're just not for me. I have my own movies that are custom fitted to my own personal tastes waiting for me and even though these movies aren't bad, they somehow still manage to leave me out in the cold.

I will say that this one is just a hair better than the other two, but not by a lot. I liked the way everything started out - no more kid actors and an aspiring novelist living in less than ample quarters, hoping to one day be heralded. He plays the flute to put himself to sleep at night and somehow sweet talks the landlord into letting him stay one more day, despite being three months behind on rent. Then he goes to this wedding and is somehow coerced into marrying this girl and miraculously, they make it work. It all goes downhill when she dies and Apu goes on this mission to find himself. Oy vey. THE BOOK notes that The World of Apu also revolves around two deaths: the death of Aparna and the death of Apu...spiritually. Give me a break! I could go on and on about how mediocre these films came off to me, but what's the point - I think you get the idea. I didn't mind them as much as I thought I would, but am honestly really glad to have them behind me so that I can get onto (hopefully) better things.

RATING: 5.5/10  I needed my rating to convey that this one was a little better, hence the '5.5', but ultimately none of them will be going on to any of my favorites lists.


October 28, 2014  9:20pm


  1. OK, I think this will cover all three films....
    What a shame.. I feel really bad about not being swept away by these.. i was so looking forward to them, and went in expecting to enjoy.
    Unfortunately I came out, not only glad it was all over, but leaving a bit of a dread of other Indian films of a similar type. (It took me till 'The Chess players' to get over that dread)
    What went so wrong? At a danger of repetition, I will re-state I was wowed by the cinematography.. I think it was the unremitting timetable of disaster and woe.. It has been 15 minutes since the last death, another is due ... who is next, .You could put good money that anyone getting pregnant will die in childbirth .. anyone who wants to spend the 5 rupees that are their life savings on a bus fare to get that good job.. it will do wrong. I'm sure I have pinched this comment from somewhere.. but 'well made arty soap opera' has it well summed up.

    1. Yeah, I even commented that the deaths were a bit much and got to be predictable, didn't they?

      I'm really glad I wasn't alone in not liking these. In reading some of the comments and in realizing that THE BOOK gave all three films full page spreads (two pages in the case of World of Apu), it seemed that I was set to be all alone in disliking them.


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