25 April 2011 | Peter_Young
A cop story with a difference; Om Puri nails it
Ardh Satya is an excellently made film. Govind Nihalani leaves no stone unturned in his portrayal of the trials and tribulations of the main character Anant Velankar. He never wanted to be a policeman, but he reluctantly accepted the job because circumstances forced him to as his domineering father did not give him any other option. Now, as a policeman, Anant is honest, hard-working and justice-seeking. No, not at all what we get to see in mindless action films with their exaggerated portrayals of policemen going all nuts over their profession and their fake patriotism being the main issue. Here you will not see any of the silly action sequences or the caricature villains. Ardh Satya is a realistic film, its authenticity is more present than anything else in it. It's a true depiction of the life of an Indian cop and it does not submit to stereotypes, which could have been the easiest way to go.
As Anant, Om Puri plays a man who tries to fight criminals and those who break the low, but ends up having to fight against injustice within the system itself. This movie is just his story, not necessarily as a cop. It's about his dedication to his job, his frustration, his deterioration and fall from grace. Nihalani directs this feature with great integrity, and Vijay Tendulkar's script and dialogues are fantastic. Anant's relationships with those who surround him are aptly portrayed. The sequences showing his interaction with Jyotsna, a young lecturer of literature, are stupendous and are of the best in the film, right from their first meeting which opens the film to the time when they are already considering a future marriage. There isn't a lot of romanticism about it, but there's a lot of humanity and respect. Even the portrayal of his relationship with his parents, in spite of the minimal screen time it is given, is spot on and is very troubling.
Ardh Satya is a one-man show, and needless to say, it is Om Puri who dominates the proceedings with his heartfelt, brilliant performance as Anant. Puri is an actor who has very rarely delivered something unworthy, although he has been given stuff unworthy of his talent. This performance ranks amongst the finest works of his illustrious career. He captures Anant's honesty, determination, anger and devastation with sheer intensity, and is always moving, credible and convincing. The acting in general is very good in this film, but the rest of the cast are just here to support him, and they do it well. Amrish Puri, as the tough, violent and authoritarian father, is unsurprisingly excellent. He manages to convey a lot of his character's essence through just a few scenes. The same can be said about Sadashiv Amrapurkar, who does a lot with so little. Shafi Inamdar is also pretty good as Anant's boss.
Last but certainly not least, Smita Patil is first-rate in a role that was totally in need of someone with her intellectual capabilities and would have turned into inconsequential by a lesser actress. This is not at all one of those powerful author-backed roles she was known for playing, but it's still a very special one in her career. She does not try to impress or steal the show. As Jyotsna, she is natural, pleasant and exudes a certain warmth that is missing in the film. Above all, she had the ability to listen. I highly recommend you to observe the scene in which Anant shares with her his deep devastation towards the end. This scene, devoid of clichés, is one of the finest in the film, showing Om Puri's highpoint but at the same time Patil's wonderfully unconventional reaction of just being there, quietly listening and ultimately lending him a hand of support. The film's climax is most unexpected, and Ardh Satya is overall an excellent, involving movie that is highly recommended.