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Aparajito ( ; English: The Unvanquished) is an award-winning 1956 Bengali film directed by Satyajit Ray, and is the second part of The Apu Trilogy. It is adapted from the last one-fifth of Bibhutibhushan Bannerjee's novel Pather Panchali and the first one-third of its sequel Aparajita. It focuses on the life of Apu from childhood to college. The film won eleven international awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.


The film begins with Apu's family getting settled in an apartment close to a ghat in Benaresmarker. Here Apu (Pinaki Sengupta) makes new friends. While his mother Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee) stays at home, his father Harihar (Kanu Banerjee) works as a priest. On a Diwali day, Harihar develops a fever and rests, as Apu comforts him. The next day, he leaves for his work as usual towards the ghat, ignoring his wife's advice to rest. While coming back to home, he collapses on the stairs of the ghat, and dies soon afterwards.

Apu and his mother

In Harihar's absence, it becomes Sarbajaya's responsibility to earn money for the family. She starts working as a maid. A relative invites them to return to their ancestral village in Dewanpur (in Rajshahi Divisionmarker, modern-day Bangladeshmarker). They settle in a village called Mansapota. Apu asks his mother to send him to a school. Apu studies diligently and receives a scholarship to go to Calcuttamarker (now Kolkata). Sarbajaya does not want to let her son leave. She gives in and helps him prepare to leave.

Apu (Smaran Ghosal) starts working at a printing press after school. Sarbajaya expects visits from him, but Apu manages to visit only a few times and feels out of place in Mansapota. Sarbajaya becomes seriously ill, but does not disclose her illness to Apu. One day while waiting for him, she hears his voice at the doorstep and goes to see him, but finds only a pond of fireflies as she begins fainting. When Apu finally comes to know about her poor health, he leaves for the village and finds that she has already died. A relative requests him to stay back there and to work as a priest. Apu rejects the idea. He returns to Calcutta and performs the last rites for his mother there.



Subrata Mitra, the cinematographer for The Apu Trilogy, made his first technical innovation with this film: the introduction of bounce lighting. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers:


Aparajito won the Golden Lion at the 1957 Venice Film Festival, and to date remains the only film sequel to ever win the grand prize at the prestigious Venice, Berlin or Cannes Film Festivalsmarker. Ray also won the Golden Gate awards for Best Picture and Best Director at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1958 for this film. The film also won the Bodil Award for Best Non-European Film of the Year at Denmarkmarker in 1967.

Film critic James Berardinelli wrote:

"Aparajito was filmed forty years ago, half way around the world, yet the themes and emotions embedded in the narrative are strikingly relevant to modern Western society (thus explaining why it is called a "timeless classic")... Aparajito is an amazing motion picture. Its rich, poetic composition is perfectly wed to the sublime emotional resonance of the narrative. For those who have seen Pather Panchali, Aparajito provides a nearly-flawless continuation of the journey begun there. Yet, for those who missed Ray's earlier effort, this film loses none of its impact. On its own or as part of the Apu Trilogy, Aparajito should not be missed."


In 1992, Sight & Sound (the British Film Institute's film magazine) ranked The Apu Trilogy at #88 in its Critics' Poll of all-time greatest films, while Aparajito itself was ranked separately at #127 on the same list. In 2002, a combined list of Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll results included Aparajito in its top 160. In 1998, the Asian film magazine Cinemaya's critics' poll of all-time greatest films ranked The Apu Trilogy at #7 on the list. In 1999, The Village Voice ranked The Apu Trilogy at #54 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list, based on a poll of critics. In 2001, film critic Roger Ebert included The Apu Trilogy in his list of "100 Great Movies" of all time. In 2005, The Apu Trilogy was included in Time magazine's All-Time 100 greatest movies list. At Rotten Tomatoes, Aparajito has a 93% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 14 reviews, with a 100% fresh rating based on reviews from top critics.


According to Michael Sragow of The Atlantic Monthly in 1994:

Across the world, filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Kazan and Wes Anderson have been influenced by The Apu Trilogy, with many others such as Akira Kurosawa praising the work. In Gregory Nava's 1995 film My Family, the final scene is duplicated from the final scene of Apur Sansar. Similar references to the trilogy are found, for example, in recent works such as Sacred Evil, the Elements trilogy of Deepa Mehta and even in films of Jean-Luc Godard. The technique of bounce lighting developed by the cinematographer Subrata Mitra for Aparajito has also had a profound influence on the development of cinematography.

Awards and nominations

Venice Film Festival

Berlin International Film Festival
  • Winner - 1960 - Selznick Golden Laurel for Best Film

British Film Institute Awards, London Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Winner - 1958 - Golden Gate for Best Picture
  • Winner - 1958 - Golden Gate for Best Director - Satyajit Ray
  • Winner - 1958 - International Critics' Award

Bodil Awards (Denmark)

Golden Laurel (United Statesmarker)
  • Winner - 1958-1959 - Best Foreign Film [100609]

British Academy Film Awards (United Kingdom)



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