Pather Panchali ★★★★★

"Rotting away in one place year after year, does no one any good. It makes a person petty and mean."

Here are a few facts about this film that blow my mind when I consider them.

- It was made in 1955, less than 8 years after Indian independence. In an India struggling with modernization. And it is an utterly modern film, in its themes, in its directing.
- It features an almost entirely amateur cast, directed by a debut director.
- It is scored by Ravi Shankar. Before he truly became a globally recognized musician.
- It is filmed almost entirely outside with some of the best lighting I've seen in a black and white film from this era. It threw the studio model of directing (mostly on sound stages) out the door.
- It explores patently Asian/South Asian themes about the pressures of "society" and the effects that communities have on individual decision making in incisive, but grounded and emotional ways.
- It explores masculinity, domesticism, ageism, childhood, education and the pursuit of a meaningful life. These are not the themes that Indian films explore. Especially not in 1955.

An incredible film. I'm already a Rabindranath Tagore fanboy. But the fact that he influenced people like Satyajit Ray and Amartya Sen, and created a place like Santiniketan, just puts him over the top as one of the most important, and under-rated, intellectuals in modern history.

samarthbhaskar liked this review