In Inkaar, director Sudhir Mishra tackles the topical subject of sexual harassment in the work place. Setting this contemporary story in a Mumbai based advertising agency – an industry where women and men are portrayed as having dotted line boundaries between each other – the film tracks the changing dynamics between an ambitious and up-and-coming creative director (Chitrangada Singh) and a national agency head (Arjun Rampal).
Mishra casts two beautiful actors as Maya and Rahul. The camera loves both of them, but when an entire film hinges on these two principals, trending styling and smoking hot looks are not enough.
Following a he-said-she-said format, events are revealed in flashback as the official sexual harassment complaint is reviewed by an in-house committee. This committee is adjudicated by a weak-willed, neutral representative played by Deepti Naval (in distracting earrings and lovely saris).
So, who is culpable? How thin is the line between flirting and harassment? Was she right to feel harassed; did he manipulate his power position or is her ambition prompting her actions?
It’s a complex subject indeed – replete with grey areas. This subject was previously explored by the 1994 Hollywood film ‘Disclosure’, which took some sort of stand. Inkaar, which starts with promise, falls victim to its fence-sitting, sticking to one style of narrative, which gets tiresome by halftime. But the biggest letdown is that Inkaar never takes a side and becomes a love story rather than a powerful, relevant drama. The climax feels like a cop-out.
Singh in unable to bring out a vulnerability or add depth to her character. Comparatively, Rampal comes across as the more in control performer. Supporting actors Kaizad Kotwal, as the agency boss and Vipin Sharma as Rahul’s colleague add some sparkle to a sluggish and disappointing film from the director of ‘Haazaron Khwaishein Aisi’ and ‘Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin’. The latter gets a mention in the film as the possible tag line for a condom brand!