Friday, August 29, 2014

Policeman, framed - an Ardh Satya poster

Around the time The Popcorn Essayists was at the editing stage, the great Manjula Padmanabhan gifted me a couple of posters she had designed for Govind Nihalani's Ardh Satya in 1982, including a close-up of Om Puri's weary, haunted face, done in yellow and dark blue. Took the longest time to get around to having the poster framed (apart from anything else I was petty enough to wonder if I really wanted a 4 ft by 3 ft picture of Om Puri on a wall - so much for being a Critic and appreciating good art, focussing on form as much as content etc), but have done it at last and it looks super.

There's a bubble-wrap around the poster here (will put up a clearer photo later), but you get the gist of the drawing. It suggests the inner turmoil of Puri's character Sub-Inspector Velankar so effectively, with the dark strokes seeming to cast shadows across his face and exaggerating the lines on his forehead. Velankar looks scruffy and unshaven - something you never see in the actual film, where he is neatly turned out from beginning to end. There is a poetic rather than literal realism on view here, and it's perfect for the character.

(And while on the art of Manjula P, here is my proud appearance in her comic-strip Suki.)


  1. Great blog here!
    I read your post on satire.Can you name some good Indian satirical novels in English other than 'English,august' and 'Raag Darbari'? Maybe another post on the nuances of Indian satire?

  2. Interesting post, Jai. I did not realise it until this post that Om Puri had a clean-shaven look throughout Ardh-Satya. However, in terms of facial expressions, there was a scene towards the end of the film, where Puri has same expressions as he has on this poster. The table lamp switch on, switch off scene. I think I read about it on your blog only on your post on how Nihalani uses actors.

  3. Manjula Padmanabhan designed posters for Ardh Satya? You have one of those? You also had a cameo in a Suki strip? WOW, WOW & WOW!

    Om Puri is getting raves out here for Hundred Foot Journey. This is a typical one, from John Patterson in The Guardian: "And Puri is such a captivating actor I’d pay to watch him sit on a bus bench and grouch about the weather." "The odd part is that only the Indian family seems to feel any firm ground underfoot, possibly because it’s led by Puri, who as usual has the battle-scarred authority of a war-weary general." "Puri’s heavy accent, by contrast, in that beautiful craggy growl, is all his own, the loveliest ingredient in his work, and in this film." He savages the movie though.