Friday, August 3, 2007

Ardh Satya: A very hard hitting movie

It's been 24 years since this movie has been released, but other than the fact that the guns are newer, the money involved is more, and the violence more brazen, this could be a movie of today's time. The movie set a benchmark in the area of showing the interaction of police, politicians and the criminals / mafia class and how this corrupts society, and warps the mind-frame of even people who want to be honest. And yet, given that this was a movie from the past, without any songs, wonder how many people even remember it. I for one don't remember it appearing on a movie channel in the last few years.
Ardh Satya
Ardh Satya is a very hard-hitting movie, from a Director, Govind Nihalini, who is known for not pulling his punches, and making movies with a message such as Aakrosh, Manthan, etc. Ardh Satya stars a number of intense actors such as Om Puri, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Amrish Puri, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, etc. The movie, released in 1983, won the Filmfare Awards for Best Director, Best Film, Best Story and Best Supporting Actor (Sadashiv Amrapurkar).
What is the story all about? This is Mumbai of the 1970's, where there is an easy interaction between the police force and the mafia. Om Puri is a dedicated and fiercely honest cop, Anant Welankar. He comes from a family where his father was also a policeman, a man of strict nature. His growing up was in the midst of his father's beliefs, along with beatings of his father, something that had an impact on him. This having said, he attempts to be honest, even though his superiors are shown to be well-oiled into the system, with both Shafi Inamdar and Achyut Potdar who have made their peace with the criminality of the system, and are now benefiting from it.
Once in the station, he starts to feel the impact of the power of criminals and politicians. He makes an arrest of some criminals for attacking a policeman, and his sense of accomplished is badly shocked when the goons are let off the next day. Why? Because they worked for Rama Shetty (Sadashiv in an award winning role) who is well connected, they are released pronto and Anant is advised to lay off (a sort of practical orientation to the realities of life) from anything to do with Rama Shetty. But what is a hot-headed police officer to do? In another incident, he again arrests more of Rama Shetty's men with the same consequence.
He meets an example of what could happen to a policeman in the same situation, Naseeruddin Shah, who could not compromise, and was evicted from his job and is now a derelict person, in total despair.
In the meantime, he has met a simple teacher, Jyotsna (Smita Patil), and in love with her, she also reciprocates. However, given the state that he is in in terms of his frustrations, he starts to drink more and more to alleviate the pain, and his relationship with her suffers. Things get worse when Rama Shetty gets the ticket for elections and is now on the upward path, with Anant having to provide the security for his rally. His frustration reaches such a level that he takes it out on a suspect who dies. And now Anant is in a mess. He can only go to one person for help, his arch-nemesis, Rama Shetty. What does he do? How does he redeem himself ?
The movie has a fascinating poem, recited by Om Puri. His voice gives it an extra push. In fact, the whole movie revolves around the incredible acting by Om Puri and Sadashiv Amrapurkar.

Chakravyuh mein ghusne se pehle,
kaun tha mein aur kaisa tha,
yeh mujhe yaad hi na rahega.

Chakravyuh mein ghusne ke baad,
mere aur chakravyuh ke beech,
sirf ek jaanleva nikat’ta thi,
iska mujhe pata hi na chalega.

Chakravyuh se nikalne ke baad,
main mukt ho jaoon bhale hi,
phir bhi chakravyuh ki rachna mein
farq hi na padega.

Marun ya maarun,
maara jaoon ya jaan se maardun.
iska faisla kabhi na ho paayega.

Soya hua aadmi jab
neend se uthkar chalna shuru karta hai,
tab sapnon ka sansar use,
dobara dikh hi na paayega.

Us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai
sab kuchh s’maan hoga kya?

Ek palde mein napunsakta,
ek palde mein paurush,
aur theek taraazu ke kaante par
ardh satya.

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