Ardh Satya

Twenty five years back, Govind Nihalani made a film on the decay that had set into society and the police’s role in it. Ardh Satya – the half truth – went on to become a classic.

Ananth Velankar (Om Puri) is a police officer who strives to be upright. He has a history – a domineering father (Amrish Puri) who is also a wife beater, and who made Ananth join the police force when he wanted to become a teacher/ professor. Ananth’s anger at not being able to stand up to his father and the memories of his mother being bashed up lie dormant within him. And those feelings erupt whenever he comes across cases of women being harassed. In all this, he meets, Jyotsna Gokhale (Smita Patil).

Jyotsna’s history is a mystery. All we know is that she works in some college. There are a few times when we get glimpses of how her mind works – like the time when she talks about finding the right man to marry and explains her fears to a friend – even after knowing someone for a long time, does one really know anything about them? The place where she works has a couple of interesting characters – men who pick up the latest topic from the newspapers and hold discussions on it. One day they corner her with a question on freedom of expression and want to know her views on the same. Unless you are willing to do something about an issue, there is no point discussing about it, Jyotsna says. Her friend (Ila Arun) though has a different view. Let them discuss, she says. Today they will talk about it. Tomorrow, they might do something about it.

Ananth soon has a run in with Rama Shetty (Sadashiv Amrapurkar), the local don who has all the cops in his pocket – except Ananth of course. One day, Ananth goes to arrest Shetty in a case of murder, but is forced by his superiors to bury the matter. A couple of similar incidents pour fuel into the fire and he starts drinking heavily. Jyotsna tries to bring him back to his senses. At one point of time she even tells him to quit his job, because, sooner or later, the difference between what a man is and what a man does, disappears. But he refuses to listen to her.

Things reach the tipping point when Ananth is passed over for a bravery medal in connection with a case. In a fit of rage, he end up killing a poor man accused of stealing a transistor radio in the lockup. He gets suspended as a result. And here comes the irony – the only one who can save his career is Rama Shetty who by now has become the local MLA with connections to the Chief Minister. Ananth has to make a choice – ignore his morals and try to save his career, or face the consequences. He meets Rama Shetty and immediately understands that he is getting into a deal with the devil. So he ends up killing Shetty and goes and surrenders to the police.

Why did Ananth do what he did? The answer to that lies in a poem – Ardh Satya – he read from Jyotsna’s book when they met in a coffee shop. He realizes that the system is like quicksand – the harder you fight, the deeper you get stuck; and that there is an uneasy balance between fighting it and working with it. And he could not live with it. The fact that throughout his life he had always given in without a fight made him feel impotent. That he took out his rage on a poor man, and that he was trying to get out of facing the consequences by begging in front of the very people who had brought the situation to where it stood probably made him hate himself. So, instead of pimping himself out further, he decided that if he was going down, he might just as well take one of his enemies down with him.

Ardh Satya

Chakravyuh mein ghusne se pehle,
kaun tha mein aur kaisa tha,
yeh mujhe yaad hi na rahega.

Chakravyuh mein ghusne ke baad,
mere aur chakravyuh ke beech,
sirf jaanleva nikat ta thi,
iska mujhe pata hi naa chalega.

Chakravyuh se baahar nikal ne par,
main mukt ho jaoon bhale hi,
phir bhi chakravyuh ki rachna mein,
fark hi na padega.

Maroon ya maaroon,
maara jaoon ya jaan se maar doon,
iska faisla kabhi naa ho payega.

Soya hua aadmi jab,
neend mein se uthkar chalna shuru karta hai,
tab sapnon ka sansaar us se,
dobara dikh hi naa payega.

Us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai,
sab kuch samaan hoga kya?

Ek palade mein napunsakta,
doosre palade mein pourush,
aur theek taraazu ke kaante par,
ardh satya.

– Dilip Chitre

Rough English Translation:
I will no longer have any memories of myself the way I was before I entered this labyrinth.
I will not know that after I have entered this labyrinth, the only thing that separates us is death itself.
Even though I will be free when I come out of the labyrinth, this fact will have no impact on the labyrinth itself.
Whether I should get killed or kill someone myself, this question will have no answers.
A man who wakes up from his sleep can no longer experience the world of dreams he has left behind.
Will things remain the same in the light of judgment?
On one hand there is cowardice, on the other – courage, and right between them is the half truth.

Ardh Satya on IMDb

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