Pooja (Shabana Azmi), who grew up as an orphan girl and always dreamt of owning a house, becomes insecure when she finds out that she and her husband, Inder (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), have to leave the apartment they rent. The twist that occurred when Inder gives her the keys of a new house proves to be double-edged, when it is revealed that he is in love with another woman, Kavita (Smita Patil), with whom he earned the money (in the film industry) for the new apartment. While previously giving advice to her maid (Rohini Hattangadi) cheated by her husband, now Pooja becomes herself involved in a similar situation. When Inder deserts Pooja for Kavita, she chooses to leave the apartment for a women's hostel with only INR2000 that she had when she got married. She is helped by Raj (Raj Kiran) to surpass the difficulties of life as a single person, to find a job and to rely morally on herself. Raj and Pooja become good friends. Gradually, Kavita's mental instability deepens her fears of insecurity, even after Inder requests Pooja to sign the divorce papers.
Raj falls in love with Pooja and proposes to her. She refuses saying she is empty and cannot give him anything. Raj tries to persuade her saying that she cannot spend the rest of her life feeling miserable about the past and that she should try to find a new life for herself. Pooja promises to think about it.
Pooja's maid, whose only aim in life is to secure a good education for her daughter, has saved INR1000 towards her admission fees. She finds out that her drunk husband has stolen the money. Furious, she searches for him to find him in the arms of his lover after spending all the money. She kills him and goes to the police station and confesses her crime. Worried about her daughter, she calls Pooja who promises to take care of the daughter.
After the insistence of Kavita's mother (Dina Pathak) and her personal doctor (Om Shivpuri), Pooja personally assures Kavita that she is not interested in Inder any more. However, Pooja's attitude only convinces Kavita that breaking Pooja's marriage was a mistake. To escape from her feeling of guilt and insecurity, she breaks-up with Inder. The latter tries to revive his relation with Pooja, but is rejected.
- Genre: Thriller
- Runtime: 138 Minutes
- Awards: 1982 Shabana Azmi National Film Award for Best Actress (Silver Lotus Award),Shabana Azmi Filmfare Award for Best Actress, Rohini Hattangadi Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, 1983 Madhukar Shinde Bengal Film Journalist Association Award for Best
Arth (Hindi: अर्थ, in Meaning) is a 1982 film directed by Mahesh Bhatt, starring Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Smita Patil, Raj Kiran and Rohini Hattangadi. It features a memorable soundtrack by Ghazal duo, Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh.
The semi-autobiographical film was written by Mahesh Bhatt about his extramarital relationship with Parveen Babi. It is one of the 25 Must See Bollywood Movies as compiled by Indiatimes Movies.