In the 50’s when Indian cinema was in its cradle and was ridiculed by the International filmmakers’ for its stupid dance and song content Bengali film Maverick Satyajit Ray suddenly bewildered the International filmmakers’ with his debut Bengali film Pather Panchali! The film was India’s First Art film or the parallel cinema that compelled the ‘West Filmmakers’ to sit back and watch Indian movies as the film won as many as 11 International Film Awards – The maximum International Film Awards won by any Indian film in the world cinema!!
The reason why the world cinema was left amazed by Pather Panchali because unlike the typical Indian films that are a bundle of songs, dance, comedy, and violence, Satyajit Ray‘s Pather Panchali was a completely different film!! Like French director Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939) and Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief (1948), Pather Panchali was realistic based on a true story, shot on the actual location, nonprofessional actors and made on a shoestring budget!!
The film depicted the grim realities of Bengali famine quite poignantly. Satyajit Ray shot the film on actual village locations that were hit by famines, used real village people to enact in the film. It was a very difficult task but Ray kept his cool and finally completed the film in 2 and half years with limited resources and a complete novice supporting workforce from artists to technicians.
Satyajit Ray‘s hard work paid off as the film was a commercial success and to top it all it won wide critical applause for introducing a new kind of cinema that was taught provoking and took the woes of the common man on the screen!! Pather Panchali not only won the Best Bengali Feature Film at India’s 3rd National Film Awards in 1955 but also won Best Feature Film of India!
Besides India, Pather Panchali created a sensation at each International film festival wherever it was screened. It won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes for ‘Best Human Document’ and an OCIC Award it won a Special Mention. Among the other International awards that Pather Panchali won include Vatican Award (Rome), Golden Carabao (Manila), Diploma of Merit (Edinburgh), Selznick Golden Laurel for Best Film (Berlin), Golden Gate for Best Director and Best Picture (San Francisco), Best Film (Vancouver), and the Critics’ Award for Best Film (Stratford). It also won several awards for the best foreign-language film: at the National Board of Review Awards like the Kinema Jumpo Award in Japan.
Interestingly Pather Panchali was also nominated for Best Film at the 11th Oscar Award but surprisingly failed to impress the Oscar Award jury!