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Arth (1982)

7.8
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A film-maker who is having an extra-marital affair with an actress decides to leave his wife. Arth is the story of this women's search for her identity.

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Title: Arth (1982)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Pooja
...
Inder Malhotra
...
Kavita Sanyal
Raj Kiran ...
Raj
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Gulshan
Rohini Hattangadi ...
Pooja's Maid
Siddharth Kak ...
Anil
Mazhar Khan ...
Harish
Dina Pathak ...
Kavita's Mother
Purnima ...
Hostel Principal
Shammi ...
Mrs. Bhalla
Om Shivpuri ...
Dr. Puri
Gita Siddharth ...
Dalip Tahil ...
Dalip
Chand Usmani ...
School Adminstrator
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Storyline

A film-maker who is having an extra-marital affair with an actress decides to leave his wife. Arth is the story of this women's search for her identity.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

3 December 1982 (India)  »

Also Known As:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This Film is based on the relationship between Mahesh Bhatt and Parveen Babi See more »

Connections

References Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho...
Sung by Jagjit Singh
Composed by Jagjit Singh
Lyrics by Kaifi Azmi
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User Reviews

 
The true meaning of life
28 September 2010 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Mahesh Bhatt was one of the finest filmmakers of the 1980s in the Hindi film industry. Most of his films of that period, whether it's Arth, Saaransh or Kaash, dealt with subjects most people have to deal with in their lives. Arth is one of his finest works and is perhaps the most famous of his films of that time. The movie is mainly about marriage, infidelity and divorce, but it also deals with other relevant issues through some of its minor characters. These issues are handled exceptionally well by Bhatt, who keeps everything genuinely life-like and pays attention to details. Arth depicts a world which is real and authentic and it captures the urban lifestyle of that time with complete precision. The dialogues, the characters and the situations are very simple and realistic. That may be the main reason Arth is so moving and riveting. It has the ability to captivate and enthrall simply because it is very easy to relate to.

Arth may particularly inspire women to fight for their rights, but it can equally hearten any individual to never give up, showing that there always is a way of starting everything afresh. The story shows consistent development and is very interesting to see, particularly because its realism allows the viewer connect to the story. The film's main protagonist, Pooja Malhotra, is a true example of that. She is first a dependent wife who cannot even imagine her life without her husband, then a broken woman who mourns his betrayal and abandonment, still hoping to get him back. And finally, after coming to terms with herself, she understands the meaning of life and realises her own strength and ability to stand on her own and do it her way without anyone else's support or mercy. Pooja is a brilliantly written character which is well developed and the viewers highly anticipate the moment she makes a place in the sun.

There's one person who owns Arth and makes it the memorable picture it is today. It is of course Shabana Azmi, who delivers one of the finest performances of Indian cinema. The power of her portrayal seems to come in equal parts from her understanding of the character, and of course from the fact that she does not just act, but becomes. With ease and conviction she transforms into a simple woman who deals with problems in her life. Despite her heartbreak, Pooja never loses her sense of optimism and is brave enough to summon up the courage and fight for her dignity and for her right to find new happiness in life. Pooja's pain, suffering, honesty, growth and ultimately her coming of age, are very real and involving, and that's simply because they are portrayed with rare subtlety, depth and sincerity by Azmi, who, by the way, looks absolutely beautiful, authentic and graceful throughout the movie.

Azmi utterly dominates her scenes, and some of them are unforgettable. Just see Pooja's phone call to Kavita, when she begs the latter to give her husband back to her as she has nothing without him; just see Pooja's devastation and the astonishing pain in her tearful eyes upon seeing her husband with his lover at a party during the poignant Ghazal "Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye"; just see the subsequent scene in which she gets completely inebriated, attacks Kavita and publicly calls her a whore. These scenes show emotional conditions few actresses could master. Apart from other scenes between Pooja and her husband post their separation, another great scene is the one when Pooja goes to meet Kavita. The scene, devoid of clichés, shows both Kavita's conscience and Pooja's forgiving nature, and at the same time we see that Pooja has finally overcome her divorce from her husband and does not hold any grudge.

An equally great actress, Smita Patil delivers an incredibly convincing performance as the mentally unstable actress Kavita Senyal, a role that is smaller but even more complex than that of Azmi. Patil is amazing, performing the most difficult of scenes with unsettling intensity. She displays something very disturbing within her, and yet balances it with naturally played feelings of guilt and moments of sanity. While watching Azmi and Patil share the screen, one can see a competition between the two, a healthy one I mean, not the sort of childish rivalry between the young actresses of today. They were true actresses and unlike the new girls in the industry who may fight over who's had more hits, they competed to enhance the quality of their performances, and this extracted the best out of them. Kulbhushan Kharbanda is excellent as Inder, the infidel husband whose own weakness and confusion lead him to self-ruin.

The supporting cast--from Raj Kiran who plays the aspiring singer who falls for Pooja to Mazhar Khan, Dina Pathak and Kiran Vairale who play minor parts--is superb. But the one who stands out is Rohini Hattangadi, who plays Pooja's nameless housemaid. People often overlook Hattangandi's role, but she is pretty much a reflection of Pooja. Given a role of very minimal screen time, she plays a lower-middle class woman who herself is married to a drunkard who abuses and cheats on her. And she does it with great skill, getting the mannerisms, the dialect and the hopes of people of her region and class exceedingly well. She manages to convey so much of her character's essence, whether it's her way of accepting her fate, her dreams of building a future for her daughter, or her compassion towards Pooja's state (despite having pretty much the same problems and even worse), that it's hard to believe she is there for only 20 minutes. Truly a remarkable feat.

Arth is a fascinating picture about realisation, relationships, and the power of the overcoming human spirit. It proves the talent of all those who were associated with it, and the ending is terrific. A classic gem which deserves the highest of praise, that's it.


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