Salil Tripathi in Live Mint:
Sixty years ago this month, film critics Lindsay Anderson, Georges Sadoul and Lotte Eisner joined filmmaker Jules Dassin to prevail upon Dassin’s co-jurists at the Cannes Film Festival to give a little-known black-and-white film another chance. Many of them had missed that film at its first screening, but they trooped in to see it. The film was made on location and had a bunch of unknown actors who seemed so natural that it appeared they were living out their lives in front of the cameras. And the critics were transfixed.
Later that week, the jury honoured the film, Satyajit Ray’sPather Panchali, with the award for the best human document. The long journey Ray had begun almost five years earlier, staking everything including his wife’s jewellery and convincing the chief minister of West Bengal to become the film’s producer, had reached a resounding end.
Ray had made that film based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s elegiac tale set in rural Bengal. The Cannes honour has stood the test of time. Sixty years later,Pather Panchali resonates with freshness and with what critics have called its lyrical humanism. There is poetry in that film—in its silences, its imagery, its starkness—and there is humanity. Pather Panchali shines.