In this, the second film in the Apu trilogy, Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee) takes his wife, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee), and his son, Apu, to live in the bustling city of Benares after the tragic death of his daughter, Durga, and the destruction of the family's home. Harihar ekes out a living reading sacred texts by the shores of the Ganges River. When he falls ill, Sarbajaya must learn to cope on her own and leaves the city to work as a cook for a wealthy family living in the country.
Apu, by now an adolescent (played by Smaran Ghosal), is extremely bright and hungry for knowledge. Good fortune befalls him, and he is able to attend school, eventually going to Calcutta to attend the university. Sarbajaya is reluctant to let her son go, but she is unable to stop him. She waits patiently for his return, but at the same time is growing weak from illness. When Apu learns of his mother's illness, he must decide if he's going to sacrifice his final exams and return to her side or take the exams and risk the chance she might die before he gets there.
As compelling as its predecessor, Pather Panchali, this film was made only one year later, in 1956. Karuna Bannerjee is riveting in her portrayal of a woman who has lost everything of value to her but her beloved son. The film was based on the novel Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee, and the music was composed by Ravi Shankar. --Luanne Brown
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