Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali: The Only Indian Film To Shine In BBC’s 100 Greatest Foreign Films List

Satyajit Ray with Ravi Sankar music recording for Pather Panchali in 1955. (Scanned from Sandip Ray’s book Satyajit Ray’s Ravi Shankar: An Unfilmed Visual Script via Wikimedia Commons) 

Satyajit Ray directed Pather Panchali is the only Indian film present in the British Broadcasting House’s (BBC) Culture’s 100 greatest foreign-language films, reports BBC. Critics were asked to vote for their favourite movie, primarily made in any language other than English.

The 1955 Bengali-language drama film sits on the fifteenth spot on the list. It was written and directed by Satyajit Ray and produced by the Government of West Bengal. Based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's 1929 Bengali novel of the same name, the film was Ray's directorial debut.

The first of three movies- Apu Trilogy, it depicts the childhood of Apu and his sister Durga in the village of Nischindipur, rural Bengal and harsh village life of Apu’s life. The movie, which is set in the 1910’s, overcame many production problems.

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It premiered on 3 May 1955 during an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and then in Calcutta. The movie won various national and international awards like the Best Feature Film and Best Bengali Feature Film at the National Film Awards in 1955. Before the BBC’s list, it has already featured in various top 100 films lists.

A total of 209 critics took part from 43 different countries, speaking a total number of 41 languages took part in the poll, ensuring there were voters all around the world taking place.

The result of the poll is a total of 100 films from 67 different directors, 24 countries in 19 languages. France had the most representation with 27 films of French in the list, followed by the Mandarin language with 12 films. Italian and Japanese languages claim the third spot with 11 films each.

Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, picked the top spot in the list featuring films not in the English language. Ironically, none of the six Japanese critics have voted for any of Akira Kurosawa’s films among them.

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