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At 50, Apu wins London
- Week’s screening in UK

London, Aug. 27: Fifty years after its release, Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali is getting a week’s screening at the Chelsea Cinema, a venue on the King’s Road, London, with a tradition of showing great movies, new and old.

The cinema has capacity for 700.

“It’s doing very well,” enthused Tony Brown, manager of the Chelsea Cinema.

The twice-a-day screenings, at 1.20 pm and 6.15 pm, began yesterday and will continue for a week.

“The problem is often getting a print,” Brown explained to The Telegraph. “You don’t often get to see a film like this in the commercial cinema.”

Asked whether only older Indians were coming to see the first of Ray’s Apu Trilogy, Brown interjected: “Oh, good God no!”

The audience was quite mixed, he said. “Of course, older people will come and see it because they remember it. It’s not like you can see a film like this very much.

“People have to make the effort to come and see it. We have a poster of Pather Panchali outside. It was Ray’s breakthrough film, wasn’t it'”

While The Telegraph was interviewing Brown, a member of the public telephoned to ask whether he could buy a '45 book on Ray which is currently on sale at the cinema.

In this week’s issue of Metro Life, the Evening Standard’s guide to entertainment in a London hard hit by the July bombings, the paper’s film critic, Derek Malcolm (formerly of The Guardian), has given five of five to Pather Panchali. This kind of endorsement is rarely given, but Malcolm is known to be a great champion of Ray’s works.

He writes about Pather Panchali, which naturally leads his list of films opening this week: “Satyajit Ray’s first film, the initial part of his classic Apu trilogy, hit India and the world right between the eyes. No one had seen anything like the truthful way it studied a family living in the grip of poverty in a Bengal village.

“Father, a struggling writer, leaves for the city. Mother has to look after the children and her elderly grandma. Apu grows up. That’s all. But it’s more than enough. A very beautiful and moving film.”

This is a heartfelt tribute from a critic who frequently dips his pen in cyanide when reviewing many Bollywood movies.

This summer’s season of classics at the Cannes Film Festival was also opened by Pather Panchali, with Sharmila Tagore doing the honours.

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