The most difficult films are the ones that look at the lives of the most representative elements of the audience and try to hold up a mirror.It cannot be pretty picture.After all its a “dog eat dog world” out there, with copywriters willing to go the “man bites dog” route. It also a “dog f**k bitch world”, zoologically speaking.
As a young management trainee I was posted to a crumbling sales office under the tyrannical yoke of a regional manager who belonged more in a PSU than a modern automaker.He was completely out of touch and an unpredictable animal.One day he was prowling the cubicles when a quiet middle aged lady got up and launched a tirade, calling him a dirty old man and a sexual predator to boot.Deathly silence descended on the floor. The lady disappeared and the old man was sacked.Eleven years later the incident is fresh in my memory.Today sexual harassment and false accusation of the same have become the bhramastra in the gender and class war fought in corporate India against the backdrop of increasing promiscuity and substance abuse.
Maya(Chitrangda Singh) from small town Himachal, is bright, young, ambitious and perhaps far too good looking. She wants to make a career in the advertising industry, willing to play by the debauched rules of the game and very good at justifying her transgressions to herself.Rahul(Arjun Rampal) is the young turk, CEO of the agency, a prisoner of his good looks and demigod status with an improbable number of awards on his shelf.
When Maya joins the agency, he takes her under his wings. When he seduces her she is quite willing, deluding herself under the guise of an infatuation.Her looks, competence and ambition take her far and she quickly rises to the top of the heap shattering the glass ceiling and bruising the ego of her mentor who turns against her and tries to derail her career.She is unwilling to play “doctor doctor” anymore with him, she has picked up a super rich trophy boyfriend on her New York stint. Rahul is upset, persists in his advances clumsily, and she files a case of sexual harassment.Was she actually harassed?Thats a question Mr Mishra wisely does not answer to the very end.Its complicated, you see.
This story is told in flashbacks, recounted by Maya and Rahul in front of an enquiry committee headed by a social worker(Deepti Naval in a completely miscast turn).We get a serious case of selective memory at work, both Maya and Rahul telling it as they remember it, or rather as they choose to remember it.What this produces is confusion, the committee members vote with their loyalties and it boils down to the management to wield the axe.
This is an out an out multiplex film, pitched to young people who are daily victims of their ambitions and misplaced morals, their better judgement undone by newfound sexual freedom and an overriding compulsion to climb the corporate ladder at any cost.The premise of the film is interesting, it dazzles in fits and spurts but overall is undone by its sub-par supporting cast, meaningless songs, and poor production values.
Arjun Rampal wears the same Hugo Boss spectacles for all the seven years!!The set design is atrocious and the costumes pedestrian. The cinematography is distracting beyond belief, just because there are tools available to tinker with the visuals in post production, you don’t use all of them.This film should have been shot mostly in English, Maya and Rahul doing “shukriya adaa” to each other in urdu makes you cringe. Meagre doses of realism get lost in the overwhelming Bollywood grammar of the film, which borrows a bit from trashy mainstream soap operas too.The target audience of this film does not need the gratuitous songs foisted on them. Thirty minutes less and there would have been time squeeze in a couple of drinks on this movie outing.The whole idea here is to sell a few more tickets to the non core masses and the film suffers hugely on that count.Its a tightrope that Mr Mishra tries to walk in selling his film to a wider audience.In the process he earns a PG rating too, no doubt hoping to lure in teenagers and imparting a grown up lesson to them.
Chitrangda needs to go to acting school, she is ravishing but her performance does not cut much ice.To her credit she tries, her mentor Mr Mishra has tremendous confidence in her.But Mr Mishra is perhaps too smitten by her beauty to take notice of her wooden expressions.Arjun Rampal is dependable, he brings interesting shades to his portrayal of an insecure ad man fighting to keep his ego and professional standing intact.No doubt people in the ad industry will watch this film with a sense of incredulity, the dumbing down of a complex trade to accommodate a mass audience is a disservice to advertising.
Inkaar is an interesting attempt to wade in the grey area of corporate India, looking at the myths created around the amount of compromises needed to be made in order to succeed. That genuine relationships and love do not get a fair chance to develop in the modern office can be contested but the early death of innocence and overwhelming cynicism is a cross that we must bear everyday. The casualty is always our better selves, but this is a message the fails to convey due to its numerous shortcomings.Sudhir Mishra made that modern cult classic of Indian cinema, the captivating film Hazaron Khwahishey Aisey, and one wishes he would return to that kind of cinema again.