Sunday 28 April 2013

Arth [1982]

It’s been over a decade since Mahesh Bhatt has directed a movie, and the ones that get produced from his stable have come to be mostly frowned upon by the purists; but there was a time, particularly during the 80’s, when he made a few sensitive human dramas that won appreciations. Arth, where for the first time he donned the hat of not just director but writer as well, was laced with strong autobiographical touches. The story revolves around four characters – Inder (Khulbushan Kharbanda), an independent minded filmmaker, Pooja (Shabana Azmi), his loving wife, Kavita (Smita Patil), a famous actress Inder is having an affair on the sly with, and Raj (Raj Kiran), a talented musician who Pooja befriends after moving out of her house upon learning of her husband’s infidelity. Though, given that the first three characters were straight out of the director’s life, with Inder being a stand-in for Bhatt himself and the story an allusion to his extra-marital affair with actress Parvin Babi who, like Kavita, would go on to be afflicted with Schizophrenia, the principal protagonist turned out to be the hurt but proud wife. The platonic friendship that she develops with the penniless do-gooder musician provided the film with some fine moments. Unfortunately, the movie on the whole severely lacked in subtlety, and was often guilty of resorting to stereotypes and moral conservativeness. The histrionics too ought to have been kept under a tighter leash. Nonetheless, the rewarding and maturely dealt with finale, noteworthy performances, and a couple of blissful ghazals composed and sung by Jagjit Singh, did make it worth a watch.

Director: Mahesh Bhatt
Genre: Drama/Marriage Drama/Romantic Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: Hindi
Country: India

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