Arth, 1982

Arth (source:

Arth (source:

Directed and story by Mahesh Bhatt

I’m not going to lie to you: this movie was hard to watch. The reasons are threefold: The pace was much too slow (and I can take a slow movie), the cinematography was unimaginative, and the scene changes were so abrupt they were jarring. The film seemed to want to be an “art house” film with songs put in as accents. There is nothing wrong with this, but then my sensibilities crave more art-house aesthetics—I think I’m talking about the overall quality here, since even the boring cinematography (many times it seems like the camera was set on a tripod and left there) is not what Bollywood usually does. As for the story, that is the one interesting thing about it, as is the inspiration behind it. In fact, for me, the story was more interesting than the movie, an unfortunate side effect that many of the Bollywood movies are producing. I’m still figuring out why—if the sloppy translation leaves my creative brain to write its own more interesting script, or if, even though they tackle stories with novel proportions, I still need them to delve into more of the psychology of the characters. I’ll muse on it later, I’m sure. The story is of a film director who is having an affair with his unstable leading lady. There was no secret that the story was based on the actual filmmaker’s own affair. What is fascinating here is that the scorned wife becomes the focus and force of the film. She moves out, starts her own life, and eventually refuses to take the husband back because she has fully realized her fulfillment as a human being. The eyes of this woman are abnormally huge, but she just looks very beautiful, not creepy.

Song Highlights: All of the songs are sung by the character who is a singer by trade. He sings with the camera pretty much steady on his face the whole time. His character is Muslim, and the song genre he sings in is qawali, an Indian Muslim song genre used often in Bollywood films to characterize a Muslim character. The songs weren’t remarkable (to me), but I liked that he was always singing about his love for the main female and how he would be true to her even if she only wanted him as a friend. The music is by Jagjit and Chitra Singh and lyrics by Kaifi Azmi.

Tidbits: See my review.

Rating: The lack of creative camera movement, the slow pace, the still song numbers, and the inability to understand intrinsically the significance of a Bollywood movie attempting what this film attempted (not the least a serious treatment of adultery) will render this movie largely inaccessible to Americans.

Library Collection: A good choice for historical purposes but not really any other.

© 2009 Jill Wohlgemuth

About jillbrary

Spirit of the woods
This entry was posted in Bollywood & Libraries, Film Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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