Ardh Satya (lit.' Half truth') is a 1983 film directed by Govind Nihalani and screenplay by Vijay Tendulkar. The film was based on the short story, 'Surya', by S. D. Panvalkar, and featured dialogues by Vasant Dev.[2]

Ardh Satya
Directed byGovind Nihalani
Written byVasant Dev (dialogues)
Screenplay byVijay Tendulkar
Story byS. D. Panvalkar
Based onSurya
by S. D. Panvalkar
Produced byManmohan Shetty
Pradeep Uppoor
StarringOm Puri
Smita Patil
Amrish Puri
Shafi Inamdar
Naseeruddin Shah
Sadashiv Amrapurkar
CinematographyGovind Nihalani
Edited byRenu Saluja
Music byAjit Verman
Release date
  • 19 August 1983 (1983-08-19) (India)
Running time
130 minutes
Budget₹15 lakh[1]

In this acclaimed cop-drama, Anant Velankar, played by Om Puri, is a policeman struggling with the evils around him and with his own frailties. The film also stars Amrish Puri, Smita Patil, and Sadashiv Amrapurkar, and features a theme poem by the Marathi writer Dilip Chitre. The title of the film came from a poem written by Dilip Chitre.[3]



The film opens at a party where Anant Welankar, a police officer, meets Jyotsna Gokhale, a lecturer in literature at a local college. Anant is a sub-inspector with Bombay police. They seem to hit it off despite some initial skirmishing about ideology, and the friendship blossoms into a relationship.

Anant brings diligence, enthusiasm and a definite idealism to his job. But the job is harsh. There is a deep nexus between the local mafia, the cops and the (corrupt) politicians. Honest himself, Anant falls among the lower rungs of the police hierarchy and has very limited scope of authority on the state of affairs in his area.

When Anant arrests three common thugs, he is asked to meet with their boss, Rama Shetty, a don in the local mafia. Anant refuses all of Rama Shetty's attempts to get his men out or to entice Anant to join him. Shetty decides to watch over Anant.

Some time thereafter, a meek fellow from a local slum lodges a complaint about some ruffians who harass his wife. Anant finds them, locks them up, and administers a severe beating. As a fallout, the local MLA asks for Anant to be suspended.

Anant's boss, inspector Haider Ali, explains to a mystified Anant that the ruffians were the MLA's henchmen, providers of muscle during elections and political rallies. Anant is defiant with a clear conscience (he did nothing wrong) and ready to face a tribunal. Haider Ali explains that it will hardly get that far. Tribunals are either delayed indefinitely or rigged (by corrupt politicians), and suspension is a permanent black mark on one's record (for no other politician will be willing to deal with such a troublemaker).

Anant is initially baffled but goes along with Haider's plan to bring in Desai, a mediator or middle-man with connections in New Delhi, the "Centre" or national seat of power. Desai invokes higher powers to quietly cover up the matter. Anant's morals are shaken by this incident: He had to use means barely legal to uphold his righteous actions upon criminals.

Anant reflects upon his childhood. His father retired as a Faujdar (constable) in the village police force. His father was a hard and violent man, quick to slap or beat his wife on the slightest pretext. Anant recalls looking on and being powerless to intervene. When Anant graduates college, he expresses his desire to pursue higher education but is forced into joining the police force.

Things get interesting when Anant finds one of Rama Shetty's goons, badly beaten, burnt, and left to die. Anant brings the man into the hospital and takes his statement, naming Rama Shetty and others who inflicted this assault. Anant storms into Rama Shetty's rooms to arrest him. But Shetty is unfazed. He makes a simple phone call to a high-ranking cop who immediately asks Anant to back off. Anant cites the context and the overwhelming evidence but is still ordered to step away. A consternated, resentful and hapless Anant leaves, feeling intensely humiliated.

Haider Ali explains yet again: Rama Shetty plans to run for city council in the upcoming municipal elections and simply cannot afford to let a petty matter distract his ambitions. Anant is horrified and enraged and takes to drinking. His relationship with Jyotsna suffers. He is distraught when he is sent to provide security cover for Rama Shetty's campaign rallies.

He suffers another career setback when he leads an assault team to capture a dangerous bandit in the hills outside Mumbai, and the credit for the arrest is ultimately handed to another officer. His relationship deteriorates further and he takes to drinking fairly heavily. When Jyotsna confronts him, he confides in her.

Things go completely out of control one night soon after as a small-time thief, accused of stealing a small radio, is brought into custody. Anant is very drunk, angry, and frustrated. He delivers a shocking and brutal beating to the thief – while continuing to drink – accusing him of "stealing the legitimate Rights of Others.

Not surprisingly, the thief succumbs. The fallout leaves Anant suspended and facing charges of excessive force. Anant tries to invoke Desai again, but Haider Ali backs off, saying the situation has become too hot for most anyone. Haider Ali suggests, somewhat reluctantly, that perhaps the newly elected Rama Shetty can help.

After several days of deliberation, Anant decides to visit Rama Shetty in his betting den.

Rama Shetty receives Anant cordially, and invites him into his inner sanctum alone – possibly aware that this righteous cop is finally on his knees before him. He agrees to help him only if Anant, in return, joins forces with him. Anant breaks out of his 'impotent' torpor and, infuriated, in a stunning and violent move, strangles Rama Shetty there and then.

The film ends with Anant turning himself in.





The film was financed by four producers, two of them processing laboratory owners, one a garment trader and the fourth an industrialist. In an interview with India Today, Nihalani said "Though it's still an uphill task to find backers, 10 years ago it wouldn't have been possible at all."[1] Nihalani was looking for a new actor to play the role of Rama Shetty when writer Tendulkar convinced him to see the play of Amrapurkar.[5] It was a Marathi play called "Hands Up".[3]


Year Nominee / work Award Result
1983 Om Puri Best ActorKarlovy Vary International Film Festival[6] Won
National Film Award for Best Actor[7]
1984 Filmfare Award for Best Actor Nominated
Manmohan Shetty, Pradeep Uppoor[8] Filmfare Award for Best Film Won
Govind Nihalani[8] Filmfare Award for Best Director
Sadashiv Amrapurkar[8] Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
S.D. Panvalkar[8] Filmfare Award for Best Story
Vijay Tendulkar[8] Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay


  1. ^ a b Sethi, Sunil (30 June 1983). "New films promise to usher in major change in traditional commercial Hindi film formula". India Today. New Delhi: Living Media India Limited. Retrieved 27 June 2023. Ardh Satya, which cost about Rs 15 lakh, has been financed by a consortium of four producers, two of them processing laboratory owners, one a garment trader and the fourth an industrialist who came together to pool in resources.
  2. ^ "Ardh Satya at". Archived from the original on 13 December 2007.
  3. ^ a b Salam, Ziya Us (6 November 2014). "Ardh Satya (1983)". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Pothukuchi, Madhavi (20 October 2019). "Om Puri and Smita Patil's Ardh Satya is the only police drama you need to watch". ThePrint.
  5. ^ N, Patcy (3 November 2014). "'Sadashiv Amrapurkar was offered limited roles but he picked the best'". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  6. ^ "KVIFF | History".
  7. ^ "31st National Film Festival June 1984" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2011. The award for best actor of 1983 is given to Om Puri for his performance in the Hindi film 'Ardh Satya' for his authentic portrayal of the inner conflicts of a conscientious police officer.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Govind Nihalani's film 'Ardh Satya' sweeps five Filmfare awards". India Today. New Delhi: Living Media India Limited. 30 April 1984. Retrieved 27 June 2023.