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Arth dug into my own wounds my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt


via filmfares https://ift.tt/2Lh9XGc
Arth was a defining film for Indian cinema. Marriage or mirage? It looked at the time-honoured institution with unnerving honesty. Where love and fidelity found its nemesis in passion and infidelity. Where a wife refused to welcome back her wayward husband. Where she discovered that her identity didn’t hinge on a man. It was also a defining film for director Mahesh Bhatt because he sourced the raw material from the backyard of his memories and fleshed it out on screen. His extramarital affair with the late screen siren Parveen Babi, her schizophrenic paranoia and subsequent breakdown coupled with his guilt for having abandoned his first wife – Kiran Bhatt aka Lorraine Bright – all served as the substratum of the screenplay. “Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns. I had the audacity to use that as fuel. The emotional truth has been sourced from my life,” he says of the film through which he played out and purged his trauma.

Mahesh Bhatt talks about his inspiration behind making Arth

Shabana Azmi as the deserted wife, Smita Patil as the desired woman and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the devastated man – were characters that resonated the flaws and the frailties of human beings and the impermanence of relationships. “Why it hit people? Because, it had its pulse on the beat of life,” explains Bhatt. And three decades later, we are still left seeking answers to the rhetoric, “Hai janam ka jo yeh rishta toh badalta kyun hai?” In his words...

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Why Arth?
The four films I had made before Arth – Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain (1974), Vishwasghaat  (1977), Naya Daur (1978) and Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979) had failed to make an impact. I was declared dead on arrival and junked in the dustbin of history. Perhaps, because I was untouched by the brutal face of life until then. In my 20s, I had a fairytale romance with my first wife Kiran. I was madly in love with her. Aashiqui had echoes of that. Soon we were married.

I became a father at 21. Through the course of time, I fell into a relationship with India’s top actor, the TIME magazine girl – Parveen Babi.  The relationship took its toll on me. More so because my first relationship with Kiran was not a casual affair. It had deep roots. I had known her since she was 16 or 17. The school boy crush had eventually matured into something deep. She was like me, a child out of wedlock. We were both scarred souls. We formed an instinctive bond. So Lorraine formed an important part of my life and she still does. She’s Pooja and Rahul’s mother. My relationship with Parveen was a turbulent one.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

The release of Lahu Ke Do Rang coincided with the collapse of the woman I was involved with. Parveen was reduced to a rubble. It was experiencing death at close range. The fires of that and the pain of abandoning my first wife, whom I loved dearly, was part of my emotional tank. So I thought let me make one film my way, as I see it. And not fit or fall in line with market tastes. Let me make movies about the silences we keep hearing in conversations, beneath the spoken word. That’s where Arth came from...

The Casting
Shabana Azmi was a friend. She had worked in Vishwasghaat and Lahu Ke Do Rang. She always believed that here was a director, who had perhaps not found the right vehicle. When I thought of Pooja (the wronged wife), in Arth, I thought of Shabana and no one else. She had the emotional bandwidth and the empathy to understand the complex role. Smita Patil was not given a choice. I narrated the role of Parveen (Kavita Sanyal, a superstar) to her. I wanted, a girl who had an on-the-edge personality, who was wired up all the time, tough on the exterior but frail inside. Without these two brave women, there would have been no Arth. And yes, I had another fantastic actor in Rohini Hattangady (played the Bai) too. I like Kulbhushan Kharbanda as an actor. Nowhere was his character, Inder Malhotra, projected as a hero. The film didn’t have a conventional hero. In fact, Raj Kiran (Raj) was the guy who comes in to help Pooja. And also steps out of the way to make her realise her potential, that she was complete in herself. Normally, the narrative those days was from the man’s perspective. But here it was Pooja’s story. Inder happens to be the husband, the cause of her agony; the violator.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Storytelling always empathises with the weak. The women in Arth were at the receiving end. The man oscillates between the two women and doesn’t take a stand. But in the climax, when Pooja asks Inder if he’d have accepted his wayward wife, he replies with utmost honesty, “No!” That was the only moment of glory for him. And Kulbhushan said that line with great subtlety. At that moment, the jargon of Hindi cinema changed. The male double standards were debunked.

Real vs Reel

If I had to redo Arth, I’d make the other woman, Kavita’s character more humane. Not riding so much on her neurosis. There’s a poignant moment when Kavita tells Pooja, “I loved this man… not your husband...Main apna ghar basana chahti thi, tumhara ghar ujadna nahin chahti thi.” To which Pooja replies, “Bhool jaao woh mera ghar tha hi nahin.” In a way the film shattered the belief that the husband’s home is the only and last destination for a woman. The seeds of the climax are sown in that sentence, which questions why a woman should be defined by a man.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

There were many real life references in the film. Like when Pooja, on learning that Inder wants to leave her for Kavita, begs him not to abandon her. Shabana broke down and howled after that scene. Somewhere it touched a raw nerve in her. Also, the scene where Kavita accuses Pooja of strewing her mangalsutra beads on the floor, which hurt her feet, was sourced from the ‘madness’ of Parveen Babi. Likewise, when guilt-ridden Inder unconsciously utters the name of his wife Pooja even as he’s sleeping with Kavita, leading to her emotional outburst, was close to my life. When I’d meet Parveen, she’d suspect that I had gone to meet Lorraine and hence I was not divorcing her. Even Kavita forcing Inder to marry her had real echoes.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

The Shabana – Smita face off

Shabana and Smita respected each other. But Smita was conscious of the fact that Shabana was in the driving seat. She did try to suggest that I was partial to Shabana. Smita and I were friends too. But for a while she stopped talking to me. Once I had been to meet Vijay Tendulkarji when I met Smita on the staircase. On seeing her I said, “Raah mein unse mulaqat ho gayee, jisse darte the wohi baat ho gayee...” I explained, “You can accuse me of not having enough talent to utilise you but you cannot accuse me of impartiality.” On hearing this, she broke down saying, “You’re the most competent director I’ve worked with. But I’m just feeling bad.” Decades later the jury is still out. Some still say Smita, Smita, Smita... But nevertheless, it was Shabana’s vehicle.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

If you ask me whether Smita was affected playing ‘the other woman’ on screen, something she was facing in real life then... well, she’d often say, “Oh my God, I have to live this damn life at night. And I have to shoot the same during the day. There’s no respite. What the hell! I’m going mad. You’re bringing out your own ghosts; I’m dealing with my own.” Ironically, she and I were exhaling the truth.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

The haunting music

An important part of the journey was creating the music with India’s finest poet/lyricist Kaifi Azmi and composer/singer Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. With such humility, Kaifi saab would listen to the situation. I told him I wanted the lament of French poet Collette to come across as to ‘why doesn’t love last’. Kaifi saab brought it out well in the nazm Koi yeh kaise.  He’d call up in the morning and say, “Barkhordaar! Raat ke teen baje mere zehan mein yeh shair tapka. Come over and listen to it.” He’d recite it with the body language of a school boy giving an exam wondering whether I’d like it or not. And Jagjit would get his harmonium and compose the tune there itself. Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho... became very popular. But Jhuki jhuki si nazar is also beautiful. Cinematographer Pravin Bhatt created a great cinematic moment when he lit up Shabana’s eyes as she’s seated next to a lampshade while Raj Kiran sings the ghazal for her.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Tailpiece
The institution of marriage is a multi-million dollar industry. It will prevail. But the truth of the horrors of marriage is known. An attraction between a man and a woman, despite being in a marriage, does happen. Man has always had a sweet tooth for sex. Manmade laws do not stand up when hormones play havoc. But the delusion that an extramarital relationship will bring you peace, only brings you pain. Because that eventually also seeks marriage. Anything that seeks permanence brings pain. The idea of permanence is the bedrock of all suffering. Transience is the attribute of life. Why don’t you love me like me yesterday? But it’s not the nature of things to remain forever.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

My Favourite scene
The party scene where Pooja (Shabana), like a street woman, lets go of all sense of decorum and abuses Kavita (Smita), remains special. All her claims of being different from the Bai, who fought with her husband, were brought to naught. When push comes to shove, no doubt how evolved you think you are, you’re like anyone else. Shabana’s pallu dropped accidentally while shooting it. I retained it because it appeared unpredictable and raw. It was Shabana’s courage to shed her inhibitions and Smita’s to stand quietly and tremble like an animal that made the scene unforgettable. All of Kavita’s stardom is reduced to zero at that point. As a child, outside my school in Mahim, I’d witnessed how a woman of a lower strata had waylaid a sophisticated woman, as she was having an affair with her husband. I wanted to reveal life as I had seen it.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Arth was a defining film for Indian cinema. Marriage or mirage? It looked at the time-honoured institution with unnerving honesty. Where love and fidelity found its nemesis in passion and infidelity. Where a wife refused to welcome back her wayward husband. Where she discovered that her identity didn’t hinge on a man. It was also a defining film for director Mahesh Bhatt because he sourced the raw material from the backyard of his memories and fleshed it out on screen. His extramarital affair with the late screen siren Parveen Babi, her schizophrenic paranoia and subsequent breakdown coupled with his guilt for having abandoned his first wife – Kiran Bhatt aka Lorraine Bright – all served as the substratum of the screenplay. “Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns. I had the audacity to use that as fuel. The emotional truth has been sourced from my life,” he says of the film through which he played out and purged his trauma. Shabana Azmi as the deserted wife, Smita Patil as the desired woman and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the devastated man – were characters that resonated the flaws and the frailties of human beings and the impermanence of relationships. “Why it hit people? Because, it had its pulse on the beat of life,” explains Bhatt. And three decades later, we are still left seeking answers to the rhetoric, “Hai janam ka jo yeh rishta toh badalta kyun hai?” Well, whatever went into the making of the film for sure was close to the heart of Mahesh Bhatt and there is no denying that. The film proved that inspiration that comes from within is the strongest for sure.

via filmfares https://ift.tt/2Lh9XGc
Arth was a defining film for Indian cinema. Marriage or mirage? It looked at the time-honoured institution with unnerving honesty. Where love and fidelity found its nemesis in passion and infidelity. Where a wife refused to welcome back her wayward husband. Where she discovered that her identity didn’t hinge on a man. It was also a defining film for director Mahesh Bhatt because he sourced the raw material from the backyard of his memories and fleshed it out on screen. His extramarital affair with the late screen siren Parveen Babi, her schizophrenic paranoia and subsequent breakdown coupled with his guilt for having abandoned his first wife – Kiran Bhatt aka Lorraine Bright – all served as the substratum of the screenplay. “Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns. I had the audacity to use that as fuel. The emotional truth has been sourced from my life,” he says of the film through which he played out and purged his trauma.

Mahesh Bhatt talks about his inspiration behind making Arth

Shabana Azmi as the deserted wife, Smita Patil as the desired woman and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the devastated man – were characters that resonated the flaws and the frailties of human beings and the impermanence of relationships. “Why it hit people? Because, it had its pulse on the beat of life,” explains Bhatt. And three decades later, we are still left seeking answers to the rhetoric, “Hai janam ka jo yeh rishta toh badalta kyun hai?” In his words...

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Why Arth?
The four films I had made before Arth – Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain (1974), Vishwasghaat  (1977), Naya Daur (1978) and Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979) had failed to make an impact. I was declared dead on arrival and junked in the dustbin of history. Perhaps, because I was untouched by the brutal face of life until then. In my 20s, I had a fairytale romance with my first wife Kiran. I was madly in love with her. Aashiqui had echoes of that. Soon we were married.

I became a father at 21. Through the course of time, I fell into a relationship with India’s top actor, the TIME magazine girl – Parveen Babi.  The relationship took its toll on me. More so because my first relationship with Kiran was not a casual affair. It had deep roots. I had known her since she was 16 or 17. The school boy crush had eventually matured into something deep. She was like me, a child out of wedlock. We were both scarred souls. We formed an instinctive bond. So Lorraine formed an important part of my life and she still does. She’s Pooja and Rahul’s mother. My relationship with Parveen was a turbulent one.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

The release of Lahu Ke Do Rang coincided with the collapse of the woman I was involved with. Parveen was reduced to a rubble. It was experiencing death at close range. The fires of that and the pain of abandoning my first wife, whom I loved dearly, was part of my emotional tank. So I thought let me make one film my way, as I see it. And not fit or fall in line with market tastes. Let me make movies about the silences we keep hearing in conversations, beneath the spoken word. That’s where Arth came from...

The Casting
Shabana Azmi was a friend. She had worked in Vishwasghaat and Lahu Ke Do Rang. She always believed that here was a director, who had perhaps not found the right vehicle. When I thought of Pooja (the wronged wife), in Arth, I thought of Shabana and no one else. She had the emotional bandwidth and the empathy to understand the complex role. Smita Patil was not given a choice. I narrated the role of Parveen (Kavita Sanyal, a superstar) to her. I wanted, a girl who had an on-the-edge personality, who was wired up all the time, tough on the exterior but frail inside. Without these two brave women, there would have been no Arth. And yes, I had another fantastic actor in Rohini Hattangady (played the Bai) too. I like Kulbhushan Kharbanda as an actor. Nowhere was his character, Inder Malhotra, projected as a hero. The film didn’t have a conventional hero. In fact, Raj Kiran (Raj) was the guy who comes in to help Pooja. And also steps out of the way to make her realise her potential, that she was complete in herself. Normally, the narrative those days was from the man’s perspective. But here it was Pooja’s story. Inder happens to be the husband, the cause of her agony; the violator.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Storytelling always empathises with the weak. The women in Arth were at the receiving end. The man oscillates between the two women and doesn’t take a stand. But in the climax, when Pooja asks Inder if he’d have accepted his wayward wife, he replies with utmost honesty, “No!” That was the only moment of glory for him. And Kulbhushan said that line with great subtlety. At that moment, the jargon of Hindi cinema changed. The male double standards were debunked.

Real vs Reel

If I had to redo Arth, I’d make the other woman, Kavita’s character more humane. Not riding so much on her neurosis. There’s a poignant moment when Kavita tells Pooja, “I loved this man… not your husband...Main apna ghar basana chahti thi, tumhara ghar ujadna nahin chahti thi.” To which Pooja replies, “Bhool jaao woh mera ghar tha hi nahin.” In a way the film shattered the belief that the husband’s home is the only and last destination for a woman. The seeds of the climax are sown in that sentence, which questions why a woman should be defined by a man.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

There were many real life references in the film. Like when Pooja, on learning that Inder wants to leave her for Kavita, begs him not to abandon her. Shabana broke down and howled after that scene. Somewhere it touched a raw nerve in her. Also, the scene where Kavita accuses Pooja of strewing her mangalsutra beads on the floor, which hurt her feet, was sourced from the ‘madness’ of Parveen Babi. Likewise, when guilt-ridden Inder unconsciously utters the name of his wife Pooja even as he’s sleeping with Kavita, leading to her emotional outburst, was close to my life. When I’d meet Parveen, she’d suspect that I had gone to meet Lorraine and hence I was not divorcing her. Even Kavita forcing Inder to marry her had real echoes.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

The Shabana – Smita face off

Shabana and Smita respected each other. But Smita was conscious of the fact that Shabana was in the driving seat. She did try to suggest that I was partial to Shabana. Smita and I were friends too. But for a while she stopped talking to me. Once I had been to meet Vijay Tendulkarji when I met Smita on the staircase. On seeing her I said, “Raah mein unse mulaqat ho gayee, jisse darte the wohi baat ho gayee...” I explained, “You can accuse me of not having enough talent to utilise you but you cannot accuse me of impartiality.” On hearing this, she broke down saying, “You’re the most competent director I’ve worked with. But I’m just feeling bad.” Decades later the jury is still out. Some still say Smita, Smita, Smita... But nevertheless, it was Shabana’s vehicle.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

If you ask me whether Smita was affected playing ‘the other woman’ on screen, something she was facing in real life then... well, she’d often say, “Oh my God, I have to live this damn life at night. And I have to shoot the same during the day. There’s no respite. What the hell! I’m going mad. You’re bringing out your own ghosts; I’m dealing with my own.” Ironically, she and I were exhaling the truth.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

The haunting music

An important part of the journey was creating the music with India’s finest poet/lyricist Kaifi Azmi and composer/singer Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. With such humility, Kaifi saab would listen to the situation. I told him I wanted the lament of French poet Collette to come across as to ‘why doesn’t love last’. Kaifi saab brought it out well in the nazm Koi yeh kaise.  He’d call up in the morning and say, “Barkhordaar! Raat ke teen baje mere zehan mein yeh shair tapka. Come over and listen to it.” He’d recite it with the body language of a school boy giving an exam wondering whether I’d like it or not. And Jagjit would get his harmonium and compose the tune there itself. Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho... became very popular. But Jhuki jhuki si nazar is also beautiful. Cinematographer Pravin Bhatt created a great cinematic moment when he lit up Shabana’s eyes as she’s seated next to a lampshade while Raj Kiran sings the ghazal for her.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Tailpiece
The institution of marriage is a multi-million dollar industry. It will prevail. But the truth of the horrors of marriage is known. An attraction between a man and a woman, despite being in a marriage, does happen. Man has always had a sweet tooth for sex. Manmade laws do not stand up when hormones play havoc. But the delusion that an extramarital relationship will bring you peace, only brings you pain. Because that eventually also seeks marriage. Anything that seeks permanence brings pain. The idea of permanence is the bedrock of all suffering. Transience is the attribute of life. Why don’t you love me like me yesterday? But it’s not the nature of things to remain forever.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

My Favourite scene
The party scene where Pooja (Shabana), like a street woman, lets go of all sense of decorum and abuses Kavita (Smita), remains special. All her claims of being different from the Bai, who fought with her husband, were brought to naught. When push comes to shove, no doubt how evolved you think you are, you’re like anyone else. Shabana’s pallu dropped accidentally while shooting it. I retained it because it appeared unpredictable and raw. It was Shabana’s courage to shed her inhibitions and Smita’s to stand quietly and tremble like an animal that made the scene unforgettable. All of Kavita’s stardom is reduced to zero at that point. As a child, outside my school in Mahim, I’d witnessed how a woman of a lower strata had waylaid a sophisticated woman, as she was having an affair with her husband. I wanted to reveal life as I had seen it.

Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns - Mahesh Bhatt

Arth was a defining film for Indian cinema. Marriage or mirage? It looked at the time-honoured institution with unnerving honesty. Where love and fidelity found its nemesis in passion and infidelity. Where a wife refused to welcome back her wayward husband. Where she discovered that her identity didn’t hinge on a man. It was also a defining film for director Mahesh Bhatt because he sourced the raw material from the backyard of his memories and fleshed it out on screen. His extramarital affair with the late screen siren Parveen Babi, her schizophrenic paranoia and subsequent breakdown coupled with his guilt for having abandoned his first wife – Kiran Bhatt aka Lorraine Bright – all served as the substratum of the screenplay. “Arth dug into my own wounds, my life burns. I had the audacity to use that as fuel. The emotional truth has been sourced from my life,” he says of the film through which he played out and purged his trauma. Shabana Azmi as the deserted wife, Smita Patil as the desired woman and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the devastated man – were characters that resonated the flaws and the frailties of human beings and the impermanence of relationships. “Why it hit people? Because, it had its pulse on the beat of life,” explains Bhatt. And three decades later, we are still left seeking answers to the rhetoric, “Hai janam ka jo yeh rishta toh badalta kyun hai?” Well, whatever went into the making of the film for sure was close to the heart of Mahesh Bhatt and there is no denying that. The film proved that inspiration that comes from within is the strongest for sure.

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