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The Apu Trilogy: For being a landmark in cinema

'In terms of artistic achievement, it stands alone even today'

August 12, 2008

Legendary filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan on the mastery of Satyajit Ray.

Of course, the Apu Trilogy is a landmark in the history of Indian cinema. Pather Panchali was a real explosion in terms of quality and artistic achievement, and was absolutely different from anything that was done in India till then.

In terms of artistic achievement, it stands alone even today. It marks Indian cinema like this; before Pather Panchali and after Pather Panchali.

Satyajit Ray made no compromises while pursuing his passion. He followed certain values and he had a certain integrity which he adhered to throughout his life as an artist. He never led a double life. Like a true artist, he totally dedicated his life to the art he believed in.

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He was not only a filmmaker, he was a writer, a painter, a musician; he had many talents and all the talents went into the making of his films. He can be a role model to artists of many generations to come.

I will not rate the Apu Trilogy alone as Ray's best work. He made several other good films. Yes, the Apu Trilogy is good and there is no doubt about it. In the trilogy, my favourite is Aparajito, but Ray's favourite is Charulata.

I once told Ray that Aparajito is his best work. He then told me that he had to do a rush job as the film had to be premiered at the Venice Film Festival. He said he wanted to edit it a little more. I requested him not to touch the film as it was simply a perfect film.

I also rate Jalsagar and Devi as two of his best films. That is why I feel there is not only the Apu Trilogy. We can be proud of many of his films which are equally good or even better.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, revered by many as the best Indian filmmaker after Satyajit Ray, spoke to Shobha Warrier.

Image: A portrait taken February 2, 1989 in Kolkata of the great director Satyajit Ray during the ceremony where he was awarded the Legion of Honour by then French president Frantois Mitterrand. He also received an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1991. Photograph: Faget/AFP/Getty Images

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