U Prashanth Nayak
Sometimes, if you have to get to the heart of a legend, your scalpel will face a tougher time clearing the thickets of pre-existent praise surrounding it, than in the actual dissection of the subject at hand. A watching of Citizen Kane ,especially for a cineaste who is not yet deadened by the laureals heaped on it, may well require years of staying away from any comments on the movie, and active exorcising of any external opinions about it, before one settles down to the chimerical task of reviewing it without bias.Only a little less rigour is granted when one approaches the chance to analyze the joys and verities of Pather Panchali- the putatively canonical film that brought international acclaim to Satyajit Ray. Even without actively persuing his oeuvre, I have ended up watching close to a dozen works of this Bengali pezzonovante and consequently have no qualms in positing that Ray ranks as the pre-eminent auteur of early Indian cinema. So when the man who unknowingly initiated me into film analysis with his coruscating reviews, attests that Pather Panchali "kills" him every time time he watches it, that "no other film compares...at least in my eyes", I was re-stoked. But empathy did not instantly spring forth- I was a bigger admirer of the canvas and emotional span of this film's successor- Aparajito, and remember more vividly the intensely introspective, dare I use the world "existential", agony that suffuses Apur Sansar- the end of this trilogy and a film that prefigures other remarkable works like Wenders' "Paris, Texas". But a return to the heartland is never off the cards for a true native, hence I closed the curtains, ensured a suitably wide screen, and immersed myself into what is amongst the Government of Bengal's most valuable investments from the 1950s.