That Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth is being remade with Tamil actress Revathi stepping into the director’s seat, is well-known by now. The film’s producer Sharat Chandra recently spoke on how Shabana Azmi who gave one her career’s finest performances in the original Arth, is providing inputs to the remake .
Shabana however makes it clear she has no involvement with the Arth remake. “I don’t know enough details about the new version of Arth.But I’m not precious about remakes. I believe an important film such as Arth has said what it had to say.If anything it only shows how timeless a cult film can be .”
Any areas in the original that Shabana thinks can be modified? “The only change that can be made is I think in the portrayal of the Other Woman(played by Smita Patil) whose character can be more rounded.I wish the makers all the best .”
Shabana considers Arth the single-most important film of her career. “Mahesh Bhatt’s Arthremains a milestone in my career.I continue to meet women who say that it was a transformativeexperience for them and gave them tremendous strength.”
Speaking about the film with me in an old interview Mahaesh Bhatt had said, “Arth came into my life after a string of duds.These included Vishwasghat and Lahu Ke Do Rang which were fairly big-budgeted commercial films. Arth was a personal statement on the man-woman relationship that shattered the belief of the traditional power centres within our film industry that only a certain kind of formula works at the boxoffice. I made Arth on the firm belief that any work which originates from a filmmaker’s heart inevitably connects with the aam junta. And it hit home in ways that shocked the industry, but not me. I remember India won the Cricket World Cup on the very day when Arth was declared a hit. I remember I was at the Plaza cinema in Delhi watching the film on the Friday when it was released. We were tense, since this was not the kind of entertainment the public was used to. The scene where the deserted wife Shabana Azmi rejects her husband Kulbhushan Kharbanda and walks away from him got a standing ovation from the so-called front-benchers at this hardcore mass-entertainment theatre. I knew then and there that our film was a hit. It was because of Arth that the Rajshree’s Saaraansh, Rajendra Kumar’s Naamand Mudra Vudeotech’s Janam came my way. I think Arth worked so well because it was an honest film. It was an autobiographical film. The film’s emotional truth was sourced from my life’s welters and wounds. I think the audience connected with my honesty.Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil gave their very best to the film.Their rivalry was more a public perception than a reality. The two of them respected one another’s talent.They did not pretend to be the best of friends on the sets.But they worked like professional actors of the highest calibre. Without Shabana and Smita, Arth would not have been what it was.People said Parveen Babi was emotionally affected because I had cannibalized my relationship with her in Arth.But Parveen was genetically predisposed towards mental illness. To say that Arth was responsible for her breakdown was absurd.I wasn’t affected by accusations of cannibalizing my life for the screen. How can the truth hurt the filmmaker?”