Starring: Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Swapan Mukherjee
Director: Satyajit Ray
Running Time: 106 mins
The World Of Apu is an Indian film and the final instalment of The Apu Trilogy. Now grown up, Apu has aspirations of becoming a writer, but encounters emotional turmoil as he enters into a romantic relationship.
Satyajit Ray’s legendary trilogy comes to an end with the young adulthood of Apu, having grown from a small boy living in rural Bengal to an aspiring writer in the big city. In the end, it really feels like the trilogy has been the depiction of a lifetime, however it ends on an unexpected note, taking a bleaker turn as we see Apu take his place in the world.
With Pather Panchali and Aparajito, Ray told the universal story of growing up, and with passionate and intimate attention to detail over the course of Apu’s childhood and adolescence, the film depicted a tale that everyone can relate to, with wonderful emotional drama and intrigue over the course of those four hours.
In The World Of Apu, however, we see Apu take his place in the wider world with unexpected consequences, as the story moves away from the universal coming-of-age tale to a far more personal story, where Apu’s life continues to change dramatically with those around him, but not everything necessarily goes his way.
That’s where this film proves most powerful, the fact that Apu doesn’t have his life exactly the way he would like it, and is forced to deal with the consequences, however damaging they may be. Previously, the tragedies that he encountered were powerful and impressive, but he was able to brush them off with the ever-growing ambition and fervour for life that comes with a young age, however as a fully-grown adult, he comes across obstacles that he might not surmount, something that makes for an enthralling watch here.
With that said, as powerful and once again grounded the story in The World Of Apu is, I feel that there’s something missing from this final instalment of the trilogy, something that made the first two films such a vivid depiction of a life, and I think that it is the universality of the story at hand.
Through the course of its near-6 hour runtime over three films, you come to know and love Apu like he’s your own family, all the while being able to see yourself in him as he grows and changes through the years, which is what makes the story such an affecting watch at times, because it really can hit home in a very personal way.
In the trilogy’s final film, however, the fact that the story tells a less universal story is ultimately a little damaging. Its bleakness is also a hard pill to swallow at times, but it fits well with the development of Apu’s life over the years, as well as being balanced with moments of pure joy and happiness, however watching this film felt more like listening to a story, rather than being fully immersed and entranced by a story that you can relate to entirely.
It’s a strong story, and although it may not prove the most enthralling of the series, it features fascinating and affecting drama from time to time, but it sticks out a little too much in the trilogy, with a lack of universality that means it’s never quite as deeply powerful as the series has proved in previous instalments, and that’s why I’m giving The World Of Apu a 7.1 in the end.