Ardh Satya (Half-Truthfulness)

One of the very important poems in my life. This one’s from an incredible cinematic experience of the film: “Ardh Satya (1983)” by Govind Nihilani.

Om Puri (Actor par excellence), playing a cop in the film is struggling with the system, corruption, status quo, and relations (especially with his father and woman in his life). He is rightful but just an inch shy from committing something violent himself. Always on the verge of extreme aggression. It’s like he’s a balanced amalgamation (gray) of all the good and evil (black-and-white) powers around.

This poem gets introduced to him by his girlfriend, as she realizes what he’s going through daily as the life of a rightful cop. Notice how during the reading of the poem, he quite gradually realizes what it’s about and the way his tone of recitation changes as the poem progresses. A very poignant scene in cinematic definition, depicting clearly how the art affects the person in real-time.

Poem and Translation:

Chakravyuh mein ghusne se pehle,
kaun tha mein aur kaisa tha,
yeh mujhe yaad hi na rahega.

Before I entered
this circular maze of deceit,
what was I and who was I,
this I would not remember…

Chakravyuh mein ghusne ke baad,
mere aur chakravyuh ke beech,
sirf ek jaanleva nikat’ta thi,
iska mujhe pata hi na chalega.

After making it into the circle,
between me and this sprawling maze,
what would only remain, is a deathly dance,
this I would not gather.

Chakravyuh se nikalne ke baad,
main mukt ho jaoon bhale hi,
phir bhi chakravyuh ki rachna mein
farq hi na padega.

After making it out of this maze,
even so, if I become free…
this would hardly have any effect on
the establishment of the circle…

Marun ya maarun,
maara jaoon ya jaan se maardun.
iska faisla kabhi na ho paayega.

Whether I give in or I slay…
Whether I kill or end up dead.
This decision would always
remain hanging in the air.

Soya hua aadmi jab
neend se uthkar chalna shuru karta hai,
tab sapnon ka sansar use,
dobara dikh hi na paayega.

A man in a somber sleep
when starts to take steps once he’s awake.
Would never encounter now
the dreamful landscape.

Us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai
sab kuchh samaan hoga kya?

In that light,
which is the light of judgment.
Would everything be equal?

Ek palde mein napunsakta,
ek palde mein paurush,
aur theek taraazu ke kaante par
ardh satya.

At one end of the scale lies the man,
At another rests the impotence…
And right between the needle
hangs “the Half-Truthfulness”.

— Original poem by Dilip Chitre.
— Dedicated to people living in a state of partial authenticness.

Recitation in the voice of Om Puri

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