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Arth Film review

arth 2

  Arth is fantastic movie, with some great performances to bolster it. Making a film like Arth was a risk when Mahesh Bhatt made the original and it is still a risk in this day and age. This isn’t a story full of wisecracks, true love and beautiful young couples dancing on a colour filled mehendi set.  The characters in Arth are all mature adults, disillusioned with life and love, unnerved to find themselves at the beginning of a game they thought they had already played and won.

Shaan Shahid plays Ali, a washed up singer, who loses everything on his divorce from the “hot chick” he had once thought was the only one from him. Uzma (Uzma Hassan) is a writer and his biggest fan, for her he isn’t the penniless singer whom no one wants to hear, but a touchstone of her youth, and a reminder of happier times. When Uzma’s film director husband Umer (Mohib Mirza) starts an affair with his glamorous lead actress Humaima (Humaima Malik), it sets of a whirlwind of change and heartbreak for all four characters.

Shaan Shahid‘s script pivots the story towards his own character Ali, whose amusing divorce settlement we see play out in the very first scenes. After watching Shaan swagger through more than his share of preternaturally assertive macho heroes, it was a pleasant surprise to see him play the struggling loser, who can’t quite get back on track. Those expecting a faithful remake of the original will be disappointed; the focus on Ali leaves less room to explore Humaima’s restless movie star and all but crowds out Mohib’s unfaithful husband role. However both actors are not beaten by the lack of meat in their roles. Humaima in particular is absolutely fabulous, despite the script’s best efforts to relegate her to a decorative effect, whenever the camera does focus on her she makes her presence felt.  Mohib Mirza is simply a good actor and his underutilization is one of this films biggest flaws.

Uzma Hassan’s wonderful performance underpins the entire plot and she puts her heart and soul into the abandoned housewife. Her role could have been written better, in this day and age there really is no need to see an adult woman begging for her unfaithful husband or his mistress for her marriage but Uzma self-effacing, everyday charm makes it so watchable The confrontation between Uzma and Humaima was disturbing on so many levels: Uzma’s complete abandonment of self-respect was uncomfortable, but Humaima’s pitiless, stone cold gaze was frightening.

The story flows well and is gripping from start to finish, but might have been even better with a stronger director, who knew how to make a statement with fewer scenes. This may also be the reason that the film seems a bit jumpy, especially in a few spots towards the middle. The Director also seems to avoid strong emotional sequences placing a heavy reliance on the songs to connect the sequences where other films have dialogues and exchanges between characters. The music is fantastic and fits the mood of every scene, perhaps a fewer songs might have allowed the actors a chance to give us some more powerful scenes. Perhaps the biggest flaw was the unnecessary overkill on Humaima and Umer’s adulterous relationship; constant shots of them pawing each other did get tiresome by the end and showed a lack of creativity in the director’s vision of what sensuality really is. Somethings can be suggested and hinted at just as effectively without this constant, almost juvenile treatment of adult sexuality.

Arth is getting some mixed reviews and I think some of those could have been avoided by just calling the film a reboot or Arth 2.0. This is a strong movie taking the essence of the original movie by made by Mahesh Bhatt, and reshaping it into something modern audiences might relate to better. For me it was a gripping, first rate movie and well worth the time and effort. Go and watch, it’s a good movie.

3/5 stars

Sadaf Haider

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