Friday, Jan 21, 2022
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EXCLUSIVE: pather panchali a premiere story

Park AV. Panchali

Previously unpublished letters reveal the maestro's anguish and doubts before the release of his pathbreaking film

Park AV. Panchali
Park AV. Panchali
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

"The first half, in particular, was full of blemishes-abrupt transitions from shot to shot, scene to scene, destroying the mood, the rhythm, the continuity; imperfect fades and dissolves; uneven print quality, and at least one scene-the stormy night-ruined by inadequate sound.... I was so depressed I couldn't even write and tell you how sorry I was that such a print should have been sent to NY."

***


Satyajit Ray made some 30 films over his career, but his first film, Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), released in 1955, remains his most famous work. The simple but moving story of the boy Apu and his rural Bengali family, drawn from a celebrated novel by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee, was made, as everybody knows, in very difficult circumstances, but immediately appealed to audiences at home as well as abroad. Few are aware, however, that the film had found influential foreign admirers even before its completion—their enthusiasm brought about its world premiere at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York before anybody in India (including the director) had seen the finished product. Even fewer people know that Ray, after seeing his film for the first time, was so horrified by its flaws that he wished it had never gone to New York.

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