I haven’t written a review in a while but I actually started off writing reviews. What better time to come out of retirement then to stop you from making the biggest mistake of your life; going to watch Arth The Destination.
If you are an OG fan, then you know how my reviews work. For the rest (read; most) of you, here’s the rundown. I’ll leave my score in the first few paragraphs, beyond which there is a great possibility of spoilers. And should you not wish to be spoiled (this is one time I urge you to be spoiled) do not read beyond my score.
Arth The Destination or Arth 2 is a special kind of stupid. Let’s take a critically acclaimed formula and shoehorn unnecessary subplots, star in it ourselves and throw it down the audience’s throats because what other option to they have? You have two other options actually, Rangreza (which I watched before this) and your (my) bed, where I should have been. Though, if you must watch Arth, watch it for Humaima Malick. My score: 2/10.
A Queen Wasted
Before I sear the makers of this film with my savagery, I should explain why the movie gets the 2 points. Two words really; Humaima Malick. I mean sure, she’s technically the villain, the vamp who stole another woman’s husband, but unlike most desi ventures, she isn’t demonized. She’s human, she’s vulnerable, emotional, and alone. All of this makes her relatable and for once makes the husband, played by Mohib Mirza, seem like the one taking advantage, and not the other way around.
And Humaima played the role to a tee. There’s a fine line between crazy and over-acting and Humaima draws it. In the sheer depravity of sense that is this movie, she’s the only one who shines. The only scenes where the cinema was silent, where the audience was actually invested in the film, where we actually enjoyed ourselves, were hers.
Then, as the camera angled towards Mohib Mirza standing outside a window, we realized what we were watching. Humaima playing Umaima’s (the names in this movie are completely uninspired just by the way) climatic, schizophrenia-induced breakdown was turned into unintentional comedy.
Yeah, what should have been a moment of sorrow, displaying the vulnerabilities of a character, which to Humaima’s credit, she was doing, induced laughter from the audience. That should be enough for you to realize that, when I say Humaima was wasted in this film, it cannot be overstated. This is just one of many times, Arth fails to make sense. Let’s begin the bad by talking about a few more such instances, shall we?
Arth; A Bad Romance
Imagine, your spouse has just cheated on you, thrown away ten years of marriage. Heck, they didn’t just cheat, they fell in love with someone else while you slaved away for their happiness. Now, imagine you’re telling this to your friend, venting out your heart’s frustration, and what does your friend say? Forgive them? (!)
If that doesn’t annoy you, throw in the line:
“mard ghar torhte hain, auratien jorhti hain”
In any age, apologists for infidelity have been frowned upon yet writer/director Shaan Shahid uses this as a joke. That’s right, a joke, so that his character Ali may get closer to the recently separated Uzma.
That pretty much sets the tone for the bad romance between the two. A romance, and Ali’s backstory as a failed singer which are pretty much shoehorned on to the core drama, that is the infidelity. It always comes across as unnecessary. And while Uzma says things like ‘why does a woman need to be linked with a man to be meaningful’, yet the film does just that.
It’s pretty much as if the filmmakers decided that infidelity was so not 2017 so why not throw in an underdog tale. And a sappy, cheesy and awkward romance and way too many songs, so people can relate to it. Well, there was applause in the cinema at the end, because it was finally over.
Too Much of a Good Thing
It was a challenge of Herculean proportions to sit past the interval, had it not been for Humaima, I would have gotten up and left. Shaan may have based this on Mahesh Bhatt’s 80’s classic Arth but I don’t think he intended to borrow so much from the bottom barrel of modern Bollywood as well. There’s way too much cringe-inducing sensuality, cheesy use of alcohol and the film completely falls apart in the second half.
Though, it wasn’t very coherent in the first half either, the second half had me constantly fighting the urge to get up and leave. It was exhausting and overstretched. Just when you allowed yourself to hope, to believe that it could be over, another song would play and wham, twenty more minutes of stupidity.
Let’s quickly talk about the songs, they are actually good. Mae West did indeed say “too much of a good thing can be wonderful” but she, of course, never watched Arth The Destination. The soundtrack has a staggering ten songs and Shaan insisted on ensuring that all ten made their mark on the movie. The result is what can only be described as bursting over-saturation.
In fact, the entire movie can be described as such. Bursting over-saturation, most notably when it comes to Shaan and his character, Ali. He effectively takes what should have been a supporting role, slaps on a clichéd backstory, infuses it with his bravado and forces it on what could otherwise be an interesting story. My major concern with this film was that it would turn out to be just an ego-boost for Shaan. Props to him for ensuring that it was fully realized. As for his acting, his dialogue delivery was monotone, his expressions contrived, and his American accent forced.
Side Notes and Verdict
The acting wasn’t bad across the board though. Uzma Hassan as Uzma (yeah what did I say about the names?) was believable, but essentially inconsequential in order to drive the movie forward. Considering that she was a lead, filling the shoes of the legendary Shabana Azmi, it’s just disappointing. Mohib Mirza, whose work in films like Josh I have loved, is just there. His most effective scene is when his character is beating up Uzma’s. And that too because of the slow-mo slap to the face; kind of what this movie felt like.
Technically speaking, there is a lot of production value. A lot of opulent set pieces and beautiful locations. Many of which were at times far more interesting than what was going on in the foreground. The camera work was good too, when it wasn’t suddenly showing random close-ups of actors yelling or looking fondly into nothingness. The editing and the pacing however, were nothing short of horrendous. The action randomly cuts to flash-backs every chance it gets. Simultaneously, there are long points where the film becomes so unbearably slow, and at other times, it jumps from one thing to another.
What I liked best about Arth 2, aside from Humaima, was that Shaan, the avid Coke fan, who mentioned in the film that getting on Coke Studio would make Ali’s career. All while singing at the top of his lungs against a backdrop with one of Pepsi’s old slogans: ‘Live It Abhi’.
I guess I love irony, especially when it just happens. Seriously speaking though. If you’re an avid cinema fan and want a wholly enriching experience, Arth The Destination is not your destination.