The easy thing to say is that Ray made 2 1/2 hour "70-minute films," devoting images, ideas, and details (location, characterization, custom) to the sorts of plots even the most concerned filmmakers wouldn't think warranted the running time. But that only makes his films sound bloated, when in fact they're lean. . . . Ray's a "problem filmmaker," not a "solution filmmaker," and, like all of his best films, NAYAK uses its excess of scenes to complicate what should be a simple story.
What distinguishes the art-house film from the would-be blockbuster is that the former is more ready to fail. . . . The fact that this film isn’t as seamless as Pather Panchali is part of what makes it so affecting, and enduring. The sign of a master is that he deals in questions, not resolutions¬—that he pulls us away from the payoffs of plot and into the maze of inquiry. By that token, The Hero succeeds quite wonderfully, scattering far more questions than even Ray could begin to answer.