Film is the final one of a trilogy on Indian life in the 1930s [from Bibhuti Bannerjee’s novel], following the life of a young boy and his family. This entry compares with its predecessors in knowing insight, poetics and ability, but surpasses them in craftsmanship.
Here the boy, Apu (Soumitra Chatterjee), is seen after he has finished schooling at 23. Hazy bureaucracy keeps him from getting a decent job. In a visit to his cousin’s wedding he is talked into marrying the girl himself when the bridegroom, who has been arranged for the 15-year-old girl sight unseen, has a fit during the ceremony.
Script then deals with the love that grows between the newlyweds, the wife’s death in childbirth, the husband’s anguish and wanderings and refusal to see his son, and finally his determination to win the boy over after some years.
Story appears simple, but its delineation of character makes this a timeless, placeless story of love and adjustment. Director Satyajit Ray, with greater technical means, makes the truth of his relationships and the revelation of India the main trumps of the film. Wit, tenderness and intrinsic human revelations illuminate this unusual film.