For a man who’s been able to gift the country with films like ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’ (as a writer), ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ (director/writer), ‘Is Raat Ki Subha Nahin’ (director/writer); creating films might just be another flick of a magic wand. Sudhir Mishra, the brain behind some extremely lauded films, proves his mettle, yet again, with ‘Inkaar’.
Mishra carefully toys with the idea of sexual harassment and exposes to its bones that convoluted maze. He indulges in a whim here and leaves a thread awry there, only to make sure that there’s a deep sense of uneasiness that a viewer is left with in the end. For where is it that sexual harassment – that too in the hallowed portals of our offices – begins and where is it that it ends; what does it constitute, and what are those places where one falls vulnerable to the established clichés.
The film doesn’t answer any hard questions. It craftily builds a narrative, travelling back and forth in time, picking out instances from the protagonists’ life – lives that any 21st century office-going individual can relate to – and leaves a gaping lack of denouement. But that’s Sudhir Mishra for us.
The story is brilliantly supported by Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh, and both the actors shine steadily through with their performances. Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) is a man who has travelled his way up the workplace ladder with hard work and the values inherited from his father. Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) is that girl in whom any girl from a small town who has ventured out of her home to make it big in life can find her reflection in. Rahul takes Maya into his firm as a protégé, teaches her the rules of the game. The two court each other, fall short of falling in love after a steamy night in Thailand – but that’s where it all ends. Or so it seems.
Maya’s proximity to Rahul turns into an eyesore for the other professionals and turns her into the recipient of vulgar pot shots from people – directly or indirectly. One doesn’t really know where the contours of love mingle with that of hatred, one can’t really chalk out clear demarcations between one emotion and another. Maybe that’s where Sudhir Mishra’s work is so brilliantly able to click with his viewers – his relationships on celluloid are as complex as those off it.
Seven years later, Maya returns to Mumbai from New York, a fiancé and a powerful designation in the firm in tow. Rahul finds himself slighted at his own game, bears an angry witness to his defences falling weak as certain responsibilities of his are shifted on to Maya. In order for his anger to find a vent, Rahul resorts to – in Maya’s words – sexual harassment. A case is filed; and the complainant is left to battle with the many poison darts that such a bold act would constitute.
One after the other, one can find the lines between casual flirting and sexual harassment being tossed up in the air; to an extent where one doesn’t really know what to expect next. The story takes place mostly within closed chambers of the conference room of the firm and the audience is meted out to two different perspectives. And then, one is left with Mrs. Kamdhar’s dilemma (Deepti Naval) – who is correct and who is wrong. The mad coupling of the greed for power and the role of sex within it leaves one with a large, gaping lacuna.
With ‘Inkaar’, Arjun Rampal will surely be able to stun shut his critics. Rahul the at-times-blind-in-rage-at-others-vulnerable man leaves one struggling for words. His powerful, full-blooded performance is his trump card to victory. As far as Chitrangada is concerned – where does one begin praising her! Singh has yet again proved why the many ennobling epithets that she has thus far been endowed with are true to the core. Maya symbolises each of that small town girl who goes astray in the crazy world of big cities, unending competitions and the constant urge of betterment. The hunger to reach the top of the spectrum, the many shades of grey that such a girl is painted in – Singh reflects each of that, makes each of those traits her own and delivers a performance that is sure to catapult her acting skills to an enviable league. The supporting cast of Vipin Sharma, Deepti Naval, Gaurav Dwivedi and the like have all performed commendably, thereby making the film a one well-performed.
The film is shot in a stream of consciousness sort of a mode with the camera flitting from the conference room to the memory of the protagonists. At times, a single scene is played on the screen more than once – to denote the differences in the perspectives of the ones describing it – dues ex machina that Mishra has very beautifully used.
Shantanu Moitra’s music has that marvellous uncanny tendency to linger on in the memory, long after one is done with watching the film. With rock being the dominant element in his music, songs like ‘Maula tu malik hai’, ‘Darmiyan’, etc. are really melodious ones – and the former finds a special word of appreciation here.
In a nutshell, ‘Inkaar’ is another of Sudhir Mishra’s brilliances captured on celluloid. Don’t say a ‘no’ to this one.