Film, TV, Art & Music

Film Review: ‘Arth’ (1982) – The meaning of love, life & relationships

I have my own mind, and I am my own critic too. I like to arrive at conclusions based on my own experiences and observations rather than being influenced by anyone. Whether the outcome is good or bad, I like to own it.

I love watching films, and my craving for good stories is never-ending. I search for good films in my free time while reading the snippets. I don’t have any favourite genre in particular; I am open to all. It can be a comedy, dark comedy, serious, art, documentary, action, rom-com, suspense, and mystery. The film can be in any language; I do not discriminate films based on language, but of course, it should have English subtitles if it’s a foreign language film.

By now, you must have understood what a cinephile I am. One of my favourite films, which I can never get bored of watching, is ‘Arth’, released in 1982. Somewhere this movie has left a huge impact on me. This film is one of my favourites for many reasons.

‘Arth'(1982). Photo source: Internet

What makes ‘Arth’ as a film so special to me

Firstly, it has a great storyline. Secondly, two of my favourite actors, Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi, acted in this film. The lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, Rajinder Nath Rehbar and Iftikhar Imam Siddiqi are extremely beautiful and relevant even today. Stalwart singers like Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh have done justice by bringing these lyrics to life by lending their stunning voices. The songs are soulful, and they touch the heart. ‘Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho’ and ‘Jhuke Jhuke si nazar’ continue to touch our souls. Direction by Mahesh Bhatt is very realistic and outstanding. At no point does one feel that the film is going overboard.

How ‘Arth’ touches upon brave topics

The film was released in 1982, and it addressed two extremely pertinent issues so bravely and beautifully – ‘Women Empowerment and ‘Mental Health’, which in that era was not much spoken about, rather it was in negligence and in denial by the society. In my opinion, to make a film on this topic needs to be appreciated not for only its story but also for creating awareness on the importance of ‘women empowerment and ‘mental health’.

The fascinating storyline of ‘Arth’

The film starts with Pooja (Shabana Azmi) waiting for her husband Inder (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), a director trying to make his name in the film industry. Pooja is waiting for Inder to discuss an urgent letter mentioning that Inder has been removed from his job and needs to vacate the house soon.

Pooja is an orphan, who has always dreamt of having a house of her own. She gets upset and sad, knowing that she needs to vacate her home again. She shares her fears with her best friend Geeta (Aparna). She has always dreamt of having her own house and family that cannot be taken away from anyone from her childhood.

Meanwhile, Inder surprises Pooja by giving her her own house officially owned by her. He also informs Pooja that he has started a new company with the help of a partner for making a film. Inder informs Pooja that he requires going out of town for his first project shooting, which has famous actress Kavita (Smita Patil) in the lead. Before leaving, Inder gives Pooja money to furnish and decorate the house as she likes and not worry about money.

Pooja gets busy setting up the house, unaware that her husband is cheating on her while dating Kavita. Kavita gets serious about Inder and pressurises him to leave Pooja. Finally, Inder decides to tell Pooja about his relationship with Kavita. Pooja is devasted as her marriage collapses. Pooja leaves Inder and the house given by him, knowing that Kavita paid for it.

Pooja made a difficult decision to leave everything behind her and start life fresh as she has always been financially dependent on Inder. Though it was tough, with help, support, and encouragement from Geeta and her new singer friend Raj (Raj Kiran), she becomes confident and takes charge of her new life.

Whereas Pooja leaving everything behind was moving forward, Kavita was struggling in her life. As she suffers from schizophrenia, her relationship with Inder is getting messy due to a continuous fear that Inder will leave her and go back to Pooja. Concerning Kavita’s health, her mother requested Pooja to meet Kavita for once as she feels guilty about breaking their house.

The scene where Pooja and Kavita meet each other, though a small duration, but their acting is so intense and powerful that you get goosebumps. On having Pooja’s forgiveness, Kavita realises that she does not want to marry Inder and ask him to leave her house.

Pooja’s friend Raj on becoming a successful singer discloses his liking for her. Pooja gracefully tells Raj that she is currently not looking for any relationship and wants to stand for herself. Once again, she does not want to depend on anyone, as her life has just taken flight.

However, another chapter opens in Pooja’s life, when she knows that her old maid is in jail for murdering her husband. She offers to help her maid’s girl child, take care of her education, and take care of her like a mother as that makes her happy, and she wants to do it.

Once again, Inder approaches Pooja, asks for her forgiveness, and takes him back into her life. Pooja refuses to take Inder back in her life and decides to live her life on her own terms and conditions and do what makes her happy in life.

Photo source: Film Companion

The meaning of ‘Arth’

Initially, it is difficult to understand why the film has been named ‘Arth’. It is only towards the end that you come to know the meaning of ‘Arth’, which means finding yourself and that prioritising and loving yourself first is not a crime. It should not be a reason for guilt in a woman’s life.

The film promises splendid and powerful acting by all the actors. Still, the direction of the film is also very raw and realistic. It is easy to relate from the clothes to make-up, to background set-up everything is captured in its rawest nature. It does not feel like a fairy tale; everything in the film makes it natural, relatable, yet hard-hitting. Bonus points for successfully creating awareness about the importance of women empowerment and mental health as early as in the 1980s which is now openly accepted and talked about in 2021.

Sonal Srivastava

Contributor: Sonal Srivastava

About our Writing Program Student
A simple yet strong and emotional girl, Sonal a fitness enthusiast firmly believes in healthy living. She loves travelling and exploring new places and being a foodie, loves to cook! For her, spending time and energy reading, listening to music, watching movies with friends and family is a an investment of a lifetime.

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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