Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar promoted as a film dealing with office politics is more a convoluted love story than about sexual harassment. Although it does talk of the thin line between flirtation and harassment, the underlying theme seems to be how the urban, competitive world with its greed and ambition has corrupted relationships that would otherwise be simple and straightforward. Mishra, the writer behind the cult classic Jaane Bhi Do yaaron and the director of the bittersweet Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi is known for his black humour and his biting irony. Inkaar is surprisingly fairytale-like although it does touch upon elements of Mishra’s trademark surrealism by portraying imaginary scenes from characters’ minds at climatic moments.
Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal), the awe-inspiring and suave CEO of an ad-agency, is accused of harassment by Maya (Chirangada Singh), a talented copywriter who owes much of her success to his grooming. The story begins in medias res with Mrs Kamdar (Deepti Naval) presiding over the harassment case along with others member of the board. The non-linear plot spans seven years with a constant shuttling of time past and present from the point of views of both Maya, Rahul and sometimes even the board members and is an effective and gripping narrative device. Rampal is like wine. The older he gets the better he is. His performance is enticingly convincing and he would be among the few Bollywood actors to match the hysteria-triggering charisma of a Hugh Jackman or an Eric Bana. Chitrangda Singh is stunningly breath-taking although her looks at times outshine her acting, especially when she tries to portray emotional trauma.
While the lead characters are sketched in gray shades, the script makes a hazy connection between the Rahul in his childhood-taught by his father to fight for what he deserves-and the CEO who is calm, reticent and sometimes openly sidelined by Maya. Maya herself, shown as a power-hungry, alpha-female go-getter also harbours the irrational, emotionally unstable aspect that renders her unfit to wield power. With fast-paced, edgy music by Rajesh Roshan adding to the dramatic quotient of the film, and hilarious delivery by Vipin Sharma who plays Gupta, this film is a potent mix of drama, humour and Mishra’s usual dose of camera-happy experimentation.
In the end, the film veers away from any kind of social commentary on harassment but instead resorts to a more personal, humane way of resolving conflicts as both, the victim and the accused, learn to give in to each other. If you’re going to the film expecting a serious debate on harassment you will be disappointed, all you will get is a maze of point of views and the impossibility of arriving at the truth.