The entirety of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s 1931 novel Aparajito, his sequel to Pather Panchali, has finally been made into a film.

Satyajit Ray’s films Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959) were based on the first two-thirds of Bandyopadhyay’s novel. These films completed Ray’s Apu Trilogy, which began with Pather Panchali in 1955. Now, Kolkata filmmaker Subhrajit Mitra has adapted the rest of the Aparajito novel into Avijatrik: The Wanderlust of Apu. The Bengali movie is scheduled to be released on November 26.

Avijatrik follows Apu (Arjun Chakraborty) as he comes to terms with his early years in his village in Nischindipur and Varanasi and his dreams of travelling the world and becoming a writer. Giving Apu company is his six-year-old son Kajol (Ayushman Mukherjee).

Subir Banerjee played Apu in Pather Panchali and Smaran Ghoshal in Aparajito. Soumitra Chatterjee played an adult Apu in Apur Sansar.

The cast includes Arpita Chatterjee, Sreelekha Mitra, Biswanath Basu and Barun Chanda. Ditipriya Roy stars as Apu’s wife Aparna, played by Sharmila Tagore in Apur Sansar.

Avijakrtik (2021).

While choosing to film the conclusion to a Satyajit Ray trilogy was indeed “intimidating”, Mitra said that it wouldn’t help if he “stayed afraid and didn’t make the effort”. About Ray’s unending influence on Bengali filmmakers and pop culture at large, he said that Ray has been a “filmmaking school to me, in terms of how to approach a scene, turn a novel into a film, production design, directing kids”.

The surprises in the film include the inclusion of another classic Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay character, the globe-trotting adventurer Shankar from the 1937 novel Chander Pahar. Bengali actor Dev played Shankar in the 2013 Bengali adaptation. Arjun Chakraborty’s father, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, plays Shankar in Avijatrik.

In Avijatrik, it is Shankar who motivates Apu to travel the world, unlike the British traveller in the novel. “Considering the timeline of Chander Pahar and Pather Panchali, I figured Shankar would be middle-aged around this time,” Mitra reasoned. “I thought, why make a foreigner influence Apu when I have another classic character like Shankar?”

Subhrajit Mitra.

Mitra filmed Avijatrik over a month in Kolkata, Bolpur, Taki, and Gorubathan in West Bengal and Varanasi. The film is in black and white because “everyone has seen pre-independence India’s footage in black-and-white, so I wanted to have Avijatrik, set in 1940, have a visual continuation with that, as well as with the Apu trilogy”, Mitra said. “I also felt that the audience could get caught in the colours of the locations we shot at, and then the story’s essence would be lost.”

Tabla player Bickram Ghosh has composed the film’s Indian classical-based score. Anoushka Shankar has reworked the classic Pather Panchali theme by her father, Ravi Shankar.

Ray’s Apu trilogy followed Apu as a sensitive and intelligent individual who moves from a village to Kolkata and faces a series of setbacks with optimism and grittiness. About the character’s significance in 2021, Mitra said, “What makes him still relevant is his never-say-die attitude, as well as his personality of a dreamer, and eagerness to not live a conventional sort of life, which, I suppose, is still relatable to many Bengalis.”