Satyajit Ray, who is considered to be India's most important director ever and has been highly regarded on best international director lists and by his peer Akira Kurosawa.
The first part of the trilogy starts just before the birth of Apu. We learn the relationship between his aunt, mother, father, and sister and through the film watch him grow up to about school age.
I really really liked this one, when it was over I said to myself, "If I didn't like that, I shouldn't bother with foreign black-and-white films at all." The plot develops well, the story is gripping, and the soundtrack is intense. You question why his family does what they do, but you wonder what their alternatives really are. As I'm writing this review, having actually seen the film several weeks ago, I am now done with the entire trilogy and I can easily say that this film is worth watching all by itself. You do not need to watch the 2nd and 3rd parts to get something out of this one.
A very good look at a culture and time I knew little about, plus the copy from the library has hard-coded subtitles for easy transfer to a portable device.
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048473/