Director: Satyajit Ray (1955, Bengali, 119 mins)
Reviews: RottenTomatoes (97%), IMDB (8.1), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.
Watch online: YouTube.
Similar movies: death, family, village life.
Pather Panchali is one of my favorite movies. It was the first movie by Satyajit Ray and one of his best. The story revolves around a poor family in Bengal. Every character in the story is a combination of good and bad qualities. They interact with each other, just like normal people in a village. The strength of the movie is in showcasing simple, routine events in the lives of its characters in meticulous detail, without any moral judgment.
Satyajit Ray chose ordinary characters for Pather Panchali, not artists who had been trained in acting. Acting is superb, camerawork is great. Something that I really liked was that emotions were conveyed through gestures and facial expressions, with minimal or no dialogue.
A recent movie, Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Hindi) also showcases poverty in India. I was quite put off by this movie. First, Slumdog Millionaire is neither fiction nor realistic; it is somewhere in between. Pather Panchali is realistic. Second, the portrayal of poverty in Slumdog Millionaire was distasteful, as if poverty is a disease or a curse. Satyajit Ray showcases poverty in a dignified way. The characters in his movie shine through their circumstances. I felt uplifted after watching the movie.