May 18, 2008

25th May 2008; Screening of Govind Nihalani's Ardh Satya

Before entering the circle of enemies
who was I and how i was
I didn't remember it

After entering it there was only dangerous nearness
between me and the circle and i wasn't aware of it.

After getting out of the circle
I would become free for sure,
but there wont be a change in the structure itself

whether i die or kill
This will never be decided

- Dilip Chitre's poem in Ardh Satya

Ardh Satya
A Film by Govind Nihalani
Year 1983
Hindi with English sub titles

25th May 2008 ; 5.45 pm

Ashwin Hospital Auditorium

If there is one Indian movie that still stands proud, its head held high, defiant and angst-ridden on the long and eventful cinemascape of the nation, it has to be Ardh Satya.

The mother of all cop movies ever produced in India, this 130-minute movie helped establish, with one master stroke, the brilliance of Govind Nihalani's capability to fuse elements of art into commercial mainstream fare and to secure and shape the careers of Om Puri and Sadashiv Amrapurkar.

Ardh Satya or 'Half Truth' tells the story of Ananth Welankar (Om Puri), who is thrust into the Indian Police Force against his will by his domineering father (Amrish Puri, who plays his career-best role of Mogambo). The story centres around the rising angst he feels inside owing to his principled heart being stifled on a daily basis at the workplace, choked in the vice-like grip of the police-politician nexus, and the increasing impotence he feels with the events that shape his career amidst this degrading chaos.

Smitha Patil plays Jyotsna, a college lecturer and Om Puri's lady friend, whom he considers his island of calm amidst the raging hurricane inside his head. The movie is the ultimate tribute to the fiery dynamics between Om Puri and Amrish Puri as the explosive son and the domineering father.

It happened to be the unwitting second classic in the trilogy of cop sagas that Govind Nihalani explored, starting with Aakrosh in 1980, Ardh Satya in 1982 and Drohkaal in 1994.

Vijay Tendulkar wrote the screenplay based on the Marathi short story Surya by D.A. Panavalkar. Ardha Satya won the 1983 Filmare Awards for Best Movie, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Best Screenplay and Best Story. In 1984, Om Puri got the National Best Actor Award for his leading role in the movie.

The poems of Dilip Chitre, that in the movie are the work of Om Puri's lady friend Jyothsna that help the disturbed man find his identity and final solace, run through the movie as the central theme. They are literary gems that don't appear too often in the commercial staple fare of Indian cinema.

Govind Nihalani

Govind Nihalani is one of Indian cinema's foremost directors.He was born on 19 August 1940 in Karachi (now in Pakistan) and his family migrated to India during the partition of 1947. He started out as a cinematographer, graduating in cinematography from the Shree Jaya Chamrajendra polytechnic in Bangalore in 1962. He was associated with all the earlier films of Shyam Benegal and with the cinematography of Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning epic Gandhi. Nihalanti and Benegal are well known for the socially relevant films they have directed.

An interview with Nihalani - Click here

His first directorial venture was Aakrosh starring Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, the late Smita Patil and the late Amrish Puri. This was based on a real story which was converted into a filmscript by the eminent Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar and it made a huge impact on audiences all over India. It shared the Golden Peacock for best film at the International Film Festival of India held in New Delhi in 1981. His film Ardh Satya, based on a story by Dilip Chitre, is still remembered by film lovers. It changed forever the way in which Indian cinema portrayed the police and it exposed in stark detail the police-politician-criminal nexus.

With Aakrosh (1980), Nihalani joined the ranks of serious filmmakers in India. Since then he has not looked back. After directing more than a dozen thought-provoking features, he is known as a director who portrays the grim social reality without any compromises.

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