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Starring: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Singh, Deepti Naval
Directed by Sudhir Mishra
Inkaar is a case of a thing well-begun, but not even half-done. The film starts off fairly engagingly as Sudhir Mishra lays out a spread of some rather believable characters from the world of advertising. We meet a feisty Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) who has lodged a sexual harassment complaint against mentor, boss and one-time lover Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) and Mrs Kamdar (Deepti Naval) is there to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
The narrative is built on the testimonies of the two, as well as those of their friends and colleagues. It’s an engrossing search for truth through several scattered, disparate and often conflicting tales that take us back and forth in time. It’s like riding a pendulum, believing and disbelieving each of these supposed truths. And then, things come undone. The second half gets needlessly stretched and pointlessly convoluted. A sub-plot involving Arjun’s childhood and his relationship with his father doesn’t add much to the film and might as well have not been there. It all gets capped by a climax that disengages clumsily and detracts from the complexity of the sexual harassment debate that the film had ostensibly started out to involve itself seriously and intelligently with. Mishra’s take becomes disappointingly facile, more in the Madhur Bhandarkar genre of cinema, if we may recognise it as one. In fact, is it about sexual harassment at all? Or is it just another twisted love story?
The lead characters’ relationship, swinging from flirts to ambitions, jealousies, betrayals to corporate power play, feels more inane and futile than complex and compelling. Arjun fares better than expectations, but Chitrangada gives in to laboured histrionics. Is yet another refreshingly natural actress on her way to becoming a synthetic diva? Deepti is her usual warm, easy and compassionate presence—in lovely raw silk sarees. Once again, it’s the characters in the backdrop who impress more, especially Vipin Sharma as Gupta. And was that Rehana Sultan playing Chitrangada’s mother? Recognising her proved to be the most significant and memorable moment in this one’s viewing. I will remember Inkaar for encountering the Dastak star again on the big screen.