I'm not very appreciative of Mahesh Bhatt movies considering he mostly wastes the talent of actors in his movies. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Arth which made a mark. It is made with utmost honesty and sincerity and the film turned out to be very original and according to me is nothing less than a cult classic.
The story is very simple but what makes it special is the treatment. Due to the superb direction, one can easily identify with what is going on the film and can relate to the characters, relationships and how they deal with it. There are no gimmicks, over-the-top glamour or unnecessary melodrama. It doesn't emphasize on paraphernalia like high-end budgets and item songs.. Despite this, it makes you sit throughout and share the highs and lows of its characters.
The story revolves around three people Inder Malhotra (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), an ad filmmaker, Pooja Malhotra (Shabana Azmi) as his wife and the ''other'' woman Kavita Sanyal (Smita Patil). The film talks about how a woman faces her husband's love-affair and deals with it. After the initial shock, she later moves on to acceptance... then to divorce. It also throws light on how life is for a single working woman and what she might have to face. During her breakup, Shabana finds herself drawn towards another man who is a singer/musician, but she does not wish to take any chances. There is much more for you to see in this movie and interpret accordingly.
No doubt, Shabana Azmi has given one of her best performances here. Kulbhushan Kharbanda as her husband and Smita Patil as his love or lust interest have also in put in good performances. This is also one of Raj Kiran's best movies since he is the comfort with whom Shabana finds during her breakup. Siddharth and Geeta Kak play family friends to Shabana.
I must let you know what fascinated me the most in the movie. Rohini Hattangadi has a small but significant role in the film as Shabana's domestic help. A fantabulous performance from her. She effectively portrays the role of a typical domestic help in the Mumbai variety. Not only that, her well-written character brings respect, dignity and sympathy towards such people. Amazing acting skills. I just loved her portrayal of a domestic help. It's only when you see such people perform, that one realises what ''acting'' is all about.
Coming back to Raj Kiran, he is one lucky guy!! He got to sing some of the memorable ghazals. Full marks to ghazal singer and music composer Jagjit Singh and Chithra Singh, who seemed to have saved some of his best ghazals for this film. The lyrics by Kaifi Azmi are deep and soulful. The ghazals blend very beautifully into the storyline of the film. It is one of those rare examples of how songs should be in Hindi films.
Summing it up, this is a movie meant for a reasonably mature audience. It is best enjoyed when watched on a silent and peaceful evening or late night. On the ratings scale, the movie gets four stars out of five which means it is highly recommended.