Satyajit Ray worked a twenty-hour-a-day schedule to complete the editing of Pather Panchali in time for its premiere at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on May 3, 1955, in a print without subtitles. The New York opening of this restoration falls sixty years, almost to the day, after that premiere.


Pather Panchali was such a smash in New York that it played for eight months at the Fifth Avenue Playhouse in 1958.


Aparajito won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, making it the only sequel to have ever won the grand prize at one of the world’s three major festivals (Berlin, Cannes, and Venice).


Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, is a big fan of The Apu Trilogy, and he named the show’s convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after its protagonist.


Ray started out as a graphic designer and book illustrator, and his creations included woodcut art for a children’s edition of Bibhutibhusan Banerjee’s novel Pather Panchali. As a filmmaker, he designed all of his own publicity materials, and usually his opening credits.


In 1951, while Ray was trying to raise money for Pather Panchali, he drew thirty-one pages of storyboards for a documentary about Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar. The film was never made, though the storyboards have been preserved by the Satyajit Ray Society.


Cinematographer Subrata Mitra was only twenty-one years old when he began work on Pather Panchali, and had never handled a movie camera before.


Ray and Mitra pioneered the use of bounced light. For Aparajito, they had to build a studio set that would replicate the living conditions of Apu’s family in Varanasi (then known as Benares), a structure that had a central courtyard and a skylight opening at the top, and that was essentially without shadows. Mitra came up with the idea to stretch a sheet of cloth above the studio-built courtyard and bounce artificial light from below, creating more depth and natural-looking shadows in the courtyard space.


Chunibala Devi, who plays “Auntie” in Pather Panchali, was a stage actor at the turn of the century, worked in silent cinema, and then retired from entertainment. She was about eighty years old when Ray met her, and aside from being one of the few actors who received a small salary, she also required a daily dose of opium.


Apur Sansar was the first film Ray made with actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore, who would become major stars. Each went on to appear in many more Ray films.