Movie Review: Inkaar is less sexual harassment, more audience harassment!

Inkaar’s promotional material was hot and heavy, with its exquisitely beautiful cast — Arjun Rampal and Chitrangda Singh, playing out bits of the sexual harassment theme of the film in the trailers and print advertising, and the movie gets right to it.

Unfortunately though, the sexual drama is bereft of the ferocity of the crimes of passion that escalate to the point of a sexual harassment suit, and, apart from being near-perfect, beautiful human beings there is no palpable heat between the aggrieved parties.

A handsome and gifted advertising genius, Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) need only smile to land a big account for his agency or for that matter, a girl to fall into his lap. Rahul’s character, especially the advertising part, makes him seem like a wannabe Don Draper – the legendary character played by Jon Hamm in AMC’s hit television series, Mad Men. It doesn’t just stop there. Enter a beautiful Maya Luthra (Chitrangda Singh) who seems modeled on Peggy Olson, Draper’s protégé in the TV series. At least in sketching out Maya’s character, the writers of the film have succeeded in making it close to Peggy’s to a considerable extent, ignoring the obvious physical differences.

So, Rahul meets Maya at an advertising festival, where she and her friends are very displeased at not winning the year’s best campaign, and offers to take her under his wing, visibly impressed by her booing skills, as the director would like you to believe. She’s struck that ‘the’ Rahul Verma’s talking to her and offering her a job at KK & Doyle, the advertising firm that he works for. But she’s obviously not that taken in by his good looks or his powerful position as she tells him, “But I won’t sleep with you,” and bounces off with her friends into the night.

Maya does leave her small town, Solan (Himachal Pradesh), reaches Mumbai to work with him and he becomes her mentor. Rahul, coming from a small town himself, Saharanpur, and making it big in the advertising world, understands her fire and leads her career with his experience and expertise. They hit it off professionally and she rises in the ranks to Chief Copy Writer in the firm.

The story’s runtime is primarily based on fact that a handsome man and a beautiful woman working together simply must consummate their physical perfections, eventhough there is no romantic allure or texture to their equation in the least.

Barring a few glances that Maya gives Rahul at work that seem to indicate some sort of romantic interest, but are confusing nevertheless, there is little to base a story of attraction on in the script, let alone drive an entire film. So, predictably, Rahul and Maya bite the forbidden apple, breaking the Boss-Colleague equation and even have the proverbial ‘regret conversation’ the morning after. It’s quite clinical, devoid of love ballads and the roses and champagne routine – a criminal waste of Bollywood’s most beautiful on-screen pair.

Arjun Rampal and Chitrangda Singh in a still from the film Inkaar. Courtesy: Facebook

You’d think something big would come out of this, and it does. Maya is in love. But is Rahul? No one knows, except possibly the foreign model that Rahul taught how to suck a mango right, ala Katrina Kaif in the Slice AamSutra commercial. You have to wait right till the end of the film to fathom any kind of a love affair between these two and even then, you are puzzled with the revelations. Human emotions of jealousy and insecurity permeate their lives resulting in Maya moving to New York, only to return after seven years as National Creative Director of the firm and on the Board of Directors, with a fiancé, Tarun in tow. Big win, with bigger repercussions as implied by the screenplay, not with the situations as such, nevertheless leading Maya to slap a sexual harassment case against Rahul.

Since the film’s screenplay moves back and forth on a round table in the office with a social worker, Mrs Kamdar (Deepti Naval) presiding over the proceedings, in order to lead Maya and Rahul’s problem to an amicable end for the sake of the company and all concerned, it is difficult to stay with the characters long enough to feel anything for them – be it Maya’s angst or Rahul’s clipped defense on such a grave allegation.

The film talks extensively against women’s stereotypical position in society and how a woman in power need not be overly emotional in her role as leader, but some of the scenes are in sharp contrast to the progressive dialogue. Inkaar's subject is a fresh thought with sexual harassment, a serious problem in work environments, as its central theme, but falls short in developing and writing the main characters' roles with the depth required for the same.

One instance being where Tarun drives off in a huff, leaving Maya on a deserted road by herself. Also, the film’s title, Inkaar, makes you wonder where and what the Inkaar was in the story since it is scattered in bits and pieces in the narrative.

In a lighter vein, you can hear the word ‘harassment’ enunciated in many accents, Deepti Naval’s character saying it just right. The affair between Maya and Rahul is described as a ‘madhur sambandh’ which is funny in the context of the scene. There is a Chameli Soap advert which is simply hilarious as is the blatant pun on Sudhir Mishra’s own film, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin in a copy for a condom brand. But these laughs are not enough to sit through this film, which seemed like another kind of harassment altogether.

Arjun Rampal looks the part of a dashing ad man, but his portrayal of the character is bland. It’s like knocking on wood. Arjun is not really in the league of extraordinary stars to carry off a film on his own and Inkaar’s box office numbers will either break that or further reiterate the same. Both Arjun and Chitrangda’s close ups in the film, of which there are many, are visual delights of cinematic perfection.

The acting in the film is left to the beautiful Chitrangda Singh who is splendid in her performance, and the ensemble cast, in particular Deepti Naval and a character called Gupta, played by Vipin Sharma. The film ends on a strange note, not typical in the least, but bizarre would be the apt way to describe it.

Rating: **