Movie Review – Ardh Satya (1983)

We just finished watching this 1983 classic movie Ardh Satya (literal translation “Half Truth”). I don’t remember when I watched it first. I think it was at the open air theatre in Air Force Academy.

1983 was a milestone year for me personally … We moved from Shillong to AFA Dindigul as dad got posted there. I met Padmasini Periyamma as a 14 year old straight after she had helped deliver me, The First day – Meeting inspiration, India won the Cricket World Cup, I met my dearest friend Sirisha and I met my first Guru, Vidyasagar Sir. Ofcourse this movie was also released in 1983 !!

The plot is typical .. an upright police officer struggles to reconcile himself to the corrupt “system” and finally ends up killing the villain. But the movie is gripping because the cast is phenomenal. Om Puri is brilliant as Anant Velankar, especially when he tries to tell Jyotsna (Smita Patil) about his feelings after killing a thief in his custody.

Smita Patil is riveting. What a loss to the film industry that she passed away so early :(. Shafi Inamdar, Amrish Puri, Ila Arun, Satish Shah, Naseeruddin Shah and so many others that did short tiny roles in Ardh Satya went onto become great stars in their own right. It just felt good to see them at the beginning of their careers.

Sadashiv Amrapurkar will remain Rama Shetty forever like Amjad Khan would remain Gabbar Singh. I forgot the other cast members but could never forget Om Puri, Smita Patil and Sadashiv Amrapurkar. That’s how incredible his acting was !

A few things that we noticed that were stark reminders of how far we have come or in some cases regressed –

  1. Nearly no one was overweight or obese – neither the actors nor the extras and others who were in the crowd. Today if the camera pans across the crowd in any major city, there will be a lot of people who are overweight. We need to get back to being the way folks are in the movie.
  2. All the Police officers had crew cuts and not flowing tresses like some of our later day “stars”. The police looked like the police, not caricatures nor stars playing a “role”.
  3. The old stereotypes of labour unions being right and the management being corrupt was played out. The gift of communism keeps giving.
  4. Corruption was institutionalised even then ….. this movie was released just 36 years after independence and we had criminals becoming politicians. They even get elected as MLAs. Just terribly sad that its still the case and so many of our elected politicians have an unsavoury past.
  5. Smoking was rampant and the scenes didn’t carry any warning about the ill effects of smoking.
  6. Young women wore sarees… the one trend I wish does come back. :):)

Enjoyed watching the movie but also felt sad that so many of the actors are no more.. especially the main protagonists – Om Puri, Smita Patil and Sadashiv Amrapurkar.

Do watch Ardh Satya, even if you have seen it many times. It deserves all the awards that it got and its worth the trip down nostalgia lane.

Ardh Satya Movie

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