Satyajit Ray* 110 minutes*
We see the family in the processes of an Indian marriage turning sour mid-way. The joyous wail of the shehnai is abruptly interrupted. The dignified and shy bride ( Sharmila Tagore) is cast into the midstream of life's cross-currents, her fortunes as uncertain as a cast of die. People who say Ray's cinema is slow don't know what they are talking about. There may not be motion of objects at velocity but the development of events which shape people's lives is always swift and the tension never slackens, hardly for a moment. In these unhurried and contemplative rhythms, he is able to encompass the extremeties of birth and death. The moments of trauma are captured imaginatively like the son hurling a big stone at his father or Apu when he hits his brother in law. This is as violent as it ever gets in the trilogy.
The concluding part of the film --the first encounter of the absconding father with his five year child-- is cinema of rare emotional sensitivity which never descends to the expected or stereotyped. Ray is able to enter the mind of children, the wonder as well as the terror and heartache, like few others. The demon-mask with which the child is introduced is an apt metaphor of the tumult within a rejected child. It is Apu the Second! One could write a great deal about this last segment, whose meticulous crafting, deserves to be put under an appreciative microscope.