For many who have grown up watching a classic like the Apu Trilogy, a fourth addition to the series of films could seem like an unnecessary imposition to purists. However, whatever inhibitions fans might have had about the film, can now be put to rest.
For, the director himself always knew that picking up the mantle of Apu was never going to be easy. Yet Subhrajit Mitra decided to go ahead with Avijatrik: The Wanderlust of Apu despite the fact that comparisons would be inevitable. “This is my tribute to the masters who made this film. With this film I have tried to take the story forward and not ape Ray at any level. We tried to keep the flavour intact since this was a period film,” he said.
“Across the globe, Ray’s cinema is something people can relate to. Bollywood films are fantasy kettles and reflect escapism while Ray’s work is the kind of stories people can relate to on a day to day basis because it is based on the lives of actual people. The Apu Trilogy is still among the top three greatest Indian films ever made. For the western audience, introduction to Indian cinema happens with Satyajit Ray’s work. So, his films will always be relevant and popular, irrespective of language barriers! Most Indians give priority to Bollywood because the general audience are film enthusiasts not film literates. Any film literate will tell you Indian cinema is synonymous with Satyajit Ray. There were polls held across the world to decide the best films in the last century and the Apu trilogy has featured in all of them,” the director pointed out.
This is the fourth and concluding part of Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and The World of Apu) originally directed by Satyajit Ray. The trilogy had not only won Ray three national awards but also seven other awards at Cannes, Berlin and Venice Film Festivals. Avijatrik takes the story forward. Pandit Ravi Shankar had composed the music for Ray’s film.
Though Mitra’s film is similar in treatment, yet it has a distinctive layer to it. Cinematographer Supratim Bhol (Joy) said, “When you grow a sense of sanctity from your creative work and have an indomitable spirit to create the sublime form of art you really don’t feel nervous. Ray’s films are classics no doubt. But Subhra’s script needed a strong poetic platform. I think the biggest challenge was to create a world set in 1940. The architecture, the people, costume, and mannerisms everything has changed now. Our art and technical team helped us a great deal.”
“There were innumerable drafts and improvisations. I believe cinema is always made in pen and paper and since this was black and white cinema this was all the more challenging. The film has a good balance of diffused and rich contrast lighting from scene to scene as the story unfolds. I have tried my best to make it seamless and am eagerly waiting for the audience to come and watch the film at the theatre,” he added. Avijatrik has not only received rave reviews at KIFF and IFFI Goa, but has also been selected for screening at twelve other film festivals spread across Europe and North America.
Ace musician Bickram Ghosh who composed the music said the film was a huge challenge for him. “It is in my nature to take up challenges and work them to my favour. I grabbed this opportunity to create something of my own. And it did turn into a lyrical exodus. It was a big risk but I enjoyed taking this risk. There is a lot of detailing as well in terms of music, which is why it took about five months to finish the job. ”