Review Bengali

Aparajito review: Jeetu Kamal steals the show in this epic tribute to Satyajit Ray

Release Date: 13 May 2022 / Rated: U

Cinestaan Rating

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Roushni Sarkar

Directed by Anik Dutta, the film is talky initially but thrills you with its visuals in the second half.

Anik Dutta’s film Aparajito, a tribute to Satyajit Ray and his landmark maiden film Pather Panchali (1955), revolves around a fictional version of the legendary filmmaker, Aparajito Ray (Jeetu Kamal).

Taking creative liberties, Dutta has attempted to recreate Satyajit Ray's journey making his debut feature — called Pather Podaboli in this film — in great detail.

The film unfolds as Aparajito narrates his story right from his days as an art student at Shantiniketan. The narrative then depicts his tenure at an advertising agency where he happens to get inspired to make a Bengali film while illustrating the cover of a Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay novel, his first trip to England and how he went about crafting a film that was unlike any Indian movie that had been made.

While Ananda Adya and Arindam Bose’s art direction instantly transports us to the mid-20th century, it is Kamal’s portrayal of Satyajit Ray that leaves us awestruck. And, throughout the film, the actor never falters in terms of consistency. With his mannerisms, restraint and dignified performance, he allows the viewers to experience the magic of the master filmmaker in action.

The first half of Aparajito is packed with far too much information, which is conveyed in dialogues. Though Supratim Bhol’s camerawork is competent, the visuals don't take precedence initially. But you are glued to the screen nevertheless because it's impossible to take your eyes off Kamal’s rendition of the giant personality.

From the second half, as the depiction of Aparajito’s filmmaking process begins, the film too begins to offer visual treats. The recreation of behind-the-scene moments and iconic sequences from Pather Panchali gives goosebumps. This portion also establishes a balance between the informative and entertaining aspects.

There are multiple characters inspired by actual people and the performances are decent if not remarkable. However, the actress who plays the character inspired by Pather Panchali’s Indir Thakrun stands out from the rest.

Debajyoti Mishra’s background score, which is based on his interpretation of the music of Pather Panchali, underscores the protagonist’s indomitable zeal to stay true to his philosophy while overcoming multiple hurdles.

Editor Arghyakamal Mitra could have done more to give the viewer some respite from the many dialogue-heavy scenes.

A lot of research has gone into making this film, and Dutta apparently didn’t want to leave anything out. Everything, from Ray's acquaintances' apprehension about his decision to make a humanist film without the familiar elements of dance, song and romance to Hollywood director Martin Scorsese's admiration for the classic, has been depicted in this two-hour-15-minute movie.

While it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the details in Aparajito, its nostalgic value and the sheer brilliance of its leading man's performance make it a must-watch.


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