The World of Apu

The World of Apu (Bengali: অপুর সংসার Apura sansāra; Apur Sansar) is a 1959 Indian Bengali drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray. It is the third part of The Apu Trilogy, about the childhood and early adulthood of a young Bengali named Apu in the early twentieth century Indian subcontinent. (The first two parts of the trilogy are Pather Panchali and Aparajito.) The film is based on the last two-thirds of the 1932 Bengali novel, Aparajito, by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay.

The World of Apu
Film poster
Apur Sansar
Directed bySatyajit Ray
Produced bySatyajit Ray
Written bySatyajit Ray
Based onAparajito
by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
StarringSoumitra Chatterjee,
Sharmila Tagore,
Alok Chakravarty,
Swapan Mukherjee
Music byRavi Shankar
CinematographySubrata Mitra
Release date
  • 1 May 1959 (1959-05-01)
Running time
107 minutes
Box office₹75–80 lakh[1]

Released in 1959, The World of Apu focuses on Apu's adult life, and also introduces the actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore, who would go on to appear in many subsequent Ray films. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and several international awards, including the Sutherland Award for Best Original And Imaginative Film and National Board of Review Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The World of Apu has been influential across the world and is frequently listed among the greatest films of all time.[2]


Apurba Kumar Roy (Apu) (Soumitra Chatterjee) is an unemployed graduate living in a rented room in Kolkata. Despite his teacher's advice to go to university, he is unable to do so because he cannot afford it. He tries to find a job, while barely getting by providing private tutoring. His main passion is writing a novel, partially based on his own life, hoping to get it published some day. One day, he meets his old friend Pulu, who coaxes him to join him on a trip to his village in Khulna to attend the marriage of a cousin named Aparna (Sharmila Tagore).

On the day of the marriage, it is revealed that the bridegroom has a serious mental disorder. The bride's mother cancels the marriage, despite the father's protests. He and the other villagers believe, according to prevalent Hindu tradition, that the young bride must be wedded off during the previously appointed auspicious hour, otherwise, she will have to remain unmarried all her life. Apu, after initially refusing when requested by a few villagers, ultimately decides to take Pulu's advice and come to the rescue of the bride by agreeing to marry her. He returns with Aparna to his apartment in Calcutta after the wedding. He takes up a clerical job, and a loving relationship begins to bloom between them. Yet, the young couple's blissful days are cut short when Aparna dies while giving birth to their son, Kajal. Apu is overcome with grief and holds the child responsible for his wife's death.

He shuns his worldly responsibilities and becomes a recluse – travelling to different corners of India, while the child is left with his maternal grandparents. Meanwhile, Apu throws away his manuscript for the novel he had been writing over the years. A few years later, Pulu finds Kajal growing wild and uncared for. He then seeks out Apu, who is working at a mining quarry and advises Apu one last time to take up his fatherly responsibility. At last, Apu decides to come back to reality and reunite with his son. When he reaches his in-laws' place, Kajal, having seen him for the first time in his life, at first does not accept him as a father. Eventually, he accepts Apu as a friend and they return to Calcutta together to start life afresh.


  • Soumitra Chatterjee as Apu (Apurba Kumar Roy)
  • Sharmila Tagore as Aparna, Apu's wife
  • Swapan Mukherjee as Pulu
  • Alok Chakravarty as Kajal
  • Sefalika Devi as Pulu's wife
  • Dhiresh Majumdar as Sasinarayan
  • Dhiren Ghosh as the landlord


Ray wanted fresh faces again for the film like other two films in the Apu Trilogy and thus he started auditioning. In others films he made in between, like Parash Pathar (1958) and Jalsaghar (1958), he did work with professional actors like Soumitra Chatterjee, a radio announcer and a stage actor who, with doyen of Bengali theatre Sisir Bhaduri, had first auditioned for the role of the adolescent Apu in Aparajito (1956). Though Ray thought he had the right look, he found him too old for the role. Ray remembered him and offered the role of adult Apu two years later. [3] Chatterjee was still unaware that he had already been selected for the title role. He had gone on the sets of Ray's fourth film, Jalsaghar, to watch the shoot. That day, while he was leaving the sets, Ray called him over and introduced him to actor Chhabi Biswas, saying, "This is Soumitra Chattopadhyay; he's playing Apu in my next film Apur Sansar", leaving him surprised.[4] Ray however had a tough time finding an actress for the female lead Aparna. He even placed an ad in a local daily asking for photographs from girls between ages of 15 and 17. There were over a thousand responses to the ad, but Ray found none of them worth auditioning. This was when Ray came to know of a young girl, Sharmila Tagore, who had recently performed at a dance recital at Children's Little Theatre (CLT) in Kolkata. She is related to poet Rabindranath Tagore, and subsequently auditioned and was selected.[3]

Despite being selected, as a debutant actor, Chatterjee was nevertheless unsure of his career choice and especially his looks, as he did not consider himself photogenic. However, on 9 August 1958, when the first shot of the film was given an okay in one take, he realized he had found his vocation.[5]


National Film Awards (India)
British Film Institute Awards (London Film Festival)
14th Edinburgh International Film Festival
  • Winner – 1960 – Diploma Of Merit
National Board of Review Awards (United States)
British Academy Film Awards (United Kingdom)

Reception and legacy

At Rotten Tomatoes, The World of Apu has a 100% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 24 reviews with an average score of 9.04/10. Its critic's consensus states: "Achingly poignant, beautifully shot, and evocatively atmospheric, The World of Apu closes out Satyajit Ray's classic trilogy on a high note."[7] In 1992, Sight & Sound (the British Film Institute's film magazine) ranked The Apu Trilogy at #88 in its Critics' Poll list of all-time greatest films.[8] In 2002, a combined list of Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll results ranked The World of Apu at #93 in the list.[9] In 1998, the Asian film magazine Cinemaya's critics' poll of all-time greatest films ranked The Apu Trilogy at #7 on the list.[10] In 1999, The Village Voice ranked The Apu Trilogy at #54 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list, based on a poll of critics.[11] The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 32nd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[12]

In 1996, The World of Apu was included in Movieline Magazine's "100 Greatest Foreign Films".[13][14] In 2001, film critic Roger Ebert included The Apu Trilogy in his list of "100 Great Movies" of all time.[15] In 2002, The World of Apu featured in "The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made".[16] In 2005, The Apu Trilogy was included in Time magazine's All-Time 100 best movies list.[17]

At the Indian box office, the film earned a profit of ₹75–80 lakh for distributors.[1]

The World of Apu has been influential across the world. In Gregory Nava's 1995 film My Family, the final scene is duplicated from the final scene of Apur Sansar. The film's influence can also be seen in famous works such as several Philip Kaufman films.[2] References to The World of Apu are also found in several films by European filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard,[18] and in Paul Auster's 2008 novel Man in the Dark where two characters have a discussion about the film.[19]


The Academy Film Archive preserved the entire Apu Trilogy in 1996, including Apur Sansar.

See also


  1. "The India Magazine of Her People and Culture". The India Magazine of Her People and Culture. A. H. Advani. 16: 16. 1995. In 30 years, Apur Sansar and Teen Kanya have earned Rs 75 to 80 lakh for their Indian distributors.
  2. Steve Palopoli (8–15 October 2003). "Ghost 'World': The influential presence of Satyajit Ray's 'The World of Apu' lingers over some of the greatest American films of all time". Metroactive. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  3. Ray 1996, p. 131.
  4. "Soumitra Chatterjee on his master Satyajit Ray". The Times of India. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  5. Anuradha SenGupta (29 June 2008). "Being Soumitra Chatterjee: Star of the East". CNN-IBN. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  6. "7th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  7. The World of Apu at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. Aaron and Mark Caldwell (2004). "Sight and Sound". Top 100 Movie Lists. Archived from the original on 29 July 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  9. "2002 Sight & Sound Top Films Survey of 253 International Critics & Film Directors". Cinemacom. 2002. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  10. Totaro, Donato (31 January 2003). "The "Sight & Sound" of Canons". Offscreen Journal. Canada Council for the Arts. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  11. "Take One: The First Annual Village Voice Film Critics' Poll". The Village Voice. 1999. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2006.
  12. Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  13. "100 Greatest Foreign Films by Movieline Magazine". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  14. "Movieline's 100 Best Foreign Films". GreenCine. 6 April 2008. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  15. Roger Ebert (4 March 2001). "The Apu Trilogy (1959)". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  16. The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made, THE FILM CRITICS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES, The New York Times, 2002
  17. "All-time 100 Movies". Time. Time Inc. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  18. André Habib. "Before and After:Origins and Death in the Work of Jean-Luc Godard". Senses of Cinema. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
  19. Douglas Kennedy (19 September 2008). "Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster: Reflections from a hall of mirrors where the present changes shape". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 July 2009.


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