Pather Panchali Analysis - Classic Characters Remain Relevant To Today's Society

Pather Panchali, the iconic cinema by Satyajit Ray, based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's novel, is one of the greatest movies of all time. This Bengali movie changed the course of Indian cinema. Released in 1955, this is the only Indian movie to feature in the list of BBC's 100 best foreign-language films of the 21st century. An analysis of the eternal Pather Panchali shows how this cinematic miracle is still relevant in the current scenario.

Pather Panchali Analysis

Pather Panchali Story

The plot revolves around a poverty-stricken family living in the village of Nischindipur in rural Bengal. Harihar Roy, a priest, living in his ancestral dilapidated house with his wife Sarbojaya, daughter Durga and a little boy Apu. Even in their tattered clothes, they dared to dream of a better life. The movie depicts the complex human emotions realistically.

Pather Panchali Analysis

In the movie, Harihar, the father has a dream to become a poet. He finds it hard to make his family's ends meet and always has to travel outside the village. He had to abandon his passion and started working as a priest. 

With constant inflation, the cost of living in India has increased. Similarly, In today's life, the father, and in some cases both the parents spend most of the time at work, they get very little time to spend with the kids and family. To cope up with the immense work pressure, rarely professionals get time to spend on their passion. 

When Harihar accumulated money and returned home after staying away from his family for months, he discovers his wife mourning his daughter Durga's death. 

In today's Indian life, by the time parents settle their kids, they realize their time for retirement has come. That is the quality of life an average Indian is living.

Quality Of Life In India

Gone are those golden days when finishing your job on time with full dedication meant that you are doing great at work, and your job is secured. But, now there is so much cut-throat competition that you have to make sure that you outperform your peers. In India, the life of professionals is getting worst. 

Just compare the living of software engineers in India and the USA. In India, people are working 13-14 hrs while abroad due to strict labor laws, it's a 9 to 5 job for them. The situation in government jobs is also not rosy. Despite this much of labor, The salary given to fresher's in top services companies like Wipro, TCS remains the same as it was ten years back.

People born in the '80s have seen the struggle their parents have to put for the survival of the family. Today when they get their six-digit salary on time, they assume that it's the best life they could have afforded. We get what we aspire to be. We fail to comprehend that the quality of life for an average Indian continues to be the same.

Also Read: Bengalis In Bangalore - The Dilemma Of Probashi Bengalis

Has our aspirations and dream have risen from the Pather Panchali Era. Or we all are running a race with no finish line.

In that poverty-stricken family of Nischindur lived a self-respected woman, Sarbojaya, the mother, who choose to stay starved but won't plead in front of others. She has simple wishes in her life, like affording three meals a day. You think about how low her aspirations are.  

But Now think of your current scenario. An evening walk in a park, taking time out for yourself for exercise, or visiting a salon looks like luxury. ILO suggests that 8 hours of work(40 hours per week), 8 hours of sleep, and 8 hours of recreation, is ideal for human beings. Even in 2020, how much time do you get for recreational activities?  

In our country, merit is decided based on the amount of time one stays on the work and not on productivity. Those who spend time with family and in recreational work are considered lazy. This constant burnout affects the physical and mental health of people.

Humanity and compassion are lost in the workplace. Anything for your family is never enough because we are starting from so low. 

The movie's shooting took place in a small village Boral on the outskirts of Kolkata. Now, A concrete structure has replaced that crumbled house. But has human aspirations changed? As we relax on the couch of our way better apartment or house than our ancestors. We all are struggling in our life. Where is the quality of life? Work pressure, petty politics, health issues, somewhere we all have forgotten about the purpose of life.

In the movie, Harihar failed to pay the debt of his brother, and he had to sell his fruit orchard. Today the situation is that even if the government waives off the loan of the farmers, still a large number of them are committing suicide as they are unable to meet the ends. According to National Crime Record Bureau(NCRB), 42480 farmers and daily wagers committed suicide in 2019. 

Remember the tears rolling down from Durga's eyes at her friend's marriage. In that scene, with shattered hopes, she believed that she would never get married. It is this hope that makes a man alive.

This lively spirited young woman, Durga, later dies of monsoon rain fever. Isn't it true that still our societies often try to tame these independent women?

Poverty is not just a lack of money; it is not having the capability to realize one's full potential as a human being. - Amartya Sen

Some prominent Indians of that time criticized Pather Panchali as it showed the poverty of our great country to the west. In the recent past, Bollywood Superstar Amitabh Bacchan was also critical of Slumdog Millionaire for similar reasons. Then in 2020, we get to see the heart-rendering images of migrant workers walking bare feet for thousands of miles. It crushed our soul and mind. What people fail to criticize is why, after 73 years of independence, people have to face such hardships of life.

In these pandemic times, we get reports on the lack of proper infrastructure and shortage of doctors and staff. Forget about the poor, those who have money, even they are not able to get a bed in the hospital.  

Today, young Indians want respect and dignity. They dream of much more than Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan(Bread, cloth & house) and enjoy this one life to the fullest.

In all these dilemmas, the jovial boy Apu is a fresh breeze of air. It would be great to see if one-day Apu catches a glimpse of the train that he missed in Pather Panchali.  Till then, Only one pertinent question remains - Have we really evolved from the Pather Panchali Era?

Also Read: Best Bengali Movies On Amazon Prime That You Simply Can't-Miss

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