"Pather Panchali": This acclaimed debut by Satyajit Ray is the first part of a trilogy of poetic, lyrical works. A boy named Apu is born to a poor but proud Brahmin family. His loving older sister Durga is a sweet girl but has formed the bad habit of stealing fruit from an aunt's orchard, much to her mother's dismay. Their father Harihar, a poet and lay priest, finds a treasury job that will bring the family steady income for the first time in a while. For a brief period afterward, their mother, Sarbajaya, manages to make ends meet, and the children -- left to their own devices -- run freely. But when Harihar loses his position, he leaves his family with depleted resources to search elsewhere for work. In his absence, their condition deteriorates. Months later, Harihar returns to face the tragedy that forces them to leave their ancestral home.
"Aparajito": This film is the second installment to Satyajit Ray's celebrated "Apu Trilogy." Devastated by a family tragedy, 10-year-old Apu and his parents move to the sacred city of Benares, hoping to build a new life. In Benares, Apu's father Harihar ekes out a subsistence living as a priest reciting religious scripture. Though his family is poor and his mother burdened with cares, Apu runs freely, ignorant of his parents' concerns. One day, Harihar returns from work faint and feverish. Shortly thereafter, he dies. Widowed, Sarbajaya, realizes she has no recourse but to find work. As a cook for a wealthy Bengali family, she makes a decent living for herself and a growing Apu. But she leaves that position to live with her uncle in his village of Bengal. There, Apu excels in school and wins a scholarship to study at a college in Calcutta. Though pleased with her son's academic success, Sarbajaya's health is now failing and she needs him at home. Thus begins the clash between a proud woman and her headstrong son.
"The World of Apu": The conclusion of the triliogy...Living alone in a tenement above the railway, a grown Apu passes his days reading poetry, playing his wooden flute and looking for work. Though poor and without family, he remains hopeful about his future. An unexpected reunion with childhood crony Pulu, provides a respite from his lonely routine. Pulu invites Apu to attend his cousin Aparna's wedding. Moments before the ceremony, they discover the bridegroom's mentally ill and the marriage cannot proceed as planned. So Pulu -- desperate to marry his cousin, lest she be cursed for life -- asks Apu to take the groom's place. Feeling betrayed and outraged, Apu refuses but later, out of friendship, changes his mind. Apu and his delicate bride Aparna slowly fall in love, spending almost every moment together. But marital bliss is short lived, as a terrible tragedy awaits the newfound lovers.