Satyajit Ray’s 'Pather Panchali' in Variety’s ‘100 Greatest Movies Of All Time’ list
“Restrained but also universally relatable, the Bengali filmmaker’s debut is the first of those three movies, which put Indian cinema on the international art-house map.
Published: 23rd December 2022 08:46 AM | Last Updated: 23rd December 2022 08:46 AM | A+A A-
Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali has become the only Indian film to feature in 117-year-old Variety magazine’s first-ever ‘100 Greatest Movies Of All Time’ list. The list is important because it has been put together by more than 30 editors and writers of the magazine that invented the word ‘showbiz’. They include Manori Ravindran, the London-based international executive editor, and Rajinikanth’s biographer and Variety contributor Naman Ramachandran.
Topped by Alfred Hitchcock’s slasher masterpiece, Psycho (1960), the list’s top five movies are The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Godfather (1972), Citizen Kane (1941) and Pulp Fiction (1994). Also included are memorable classics ranging from Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) to Casablanca (1942), The Rules of the Game (1939), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), All About Eve (1950), It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) and Seven Samurai (1954).
In their comment on why they included Pather Panchali (ranked No. 55), the jury noted: “Long before Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, there was Satyajit Ray’s exquisitely paced and structured Apu Trilogy, the holy peak of all chaptered coming-of-age narratives.”
“Restrained but also universally relatable, the Bengali filmmaker’s debut is the first of those three movies, which put Indian cinema on the international art-house map. Like a regional riff on Italian Neorealism, the inherently humanist Pather Panchali is both a loving portrait of a mostly matriarchal upbringing and an awe-inspiring vision of rural life, as reflected through the impressionable eyes of its young protagonist.”
“The film’s captivating images include chasing after a passing train and playing in a monsoon, which adds up to a pure and soul-nourishing experience.” Ray’s film, based on Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay’s 1929 novel of the same name, featured a little-known cast and was produced by the Government of West Bengal on a shoestring budget. It won the 1955 National Award for best film and was named the best human document at Cannes in 1956.
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At that time, Variety had commented: “The film ... poetically and lyrically unfolds a tender but penetrating tale of coming of age in India, a land of poverty but also of spiritual hope. Two adolescents, a boy and his sister grow up in this atmosphere. The film fuses all aspects of picture-making into a moving whole that shows India perceptively for the first time to a Western audience.
The treatment of old age is one of the most profound ever seen on the screen. An old woman lives and dies among the budding children with a dignity and beauty that counterpoints the growth and experiences of the children. Acting, lensing and all other aspects are masterfully orchestrated by Ray into a document on life in India.”