January 18, 2013
Chitrangda Singh, Arjun Rampal, Mohan Kapoor, Deepti Naval
No thank you, Sudhir Mishra! Seriously, no thank you!
No thank you for taking a serious issue like sexual harassment at the workplace and trivialising it because you wanted to take a populist stand. No thank you for playing it safe, either because you actually don’t understand or empathise with the crucial concerns of working women or perhaps because you just don’t have the courage to back your convictions.
There are two sides to every argument … that’s the point being made by this film about a woman alleging that her boss is sexually harassing her. Perhaps Asaram Bapu should have been roped in as a consultant. After all, that’s what he said about the Delhi bus gangrape victim… That it takes two hands to clap. That galti ek taraf se nahin hoti. You should have been more sensitive than to play to the gallery on this matter, Sudhirsaab!
Inkaar takes us to an advertising agency where the National Creative Director Maya (Chitrangda Singh) has filed charges of sexual harassment against the CEO Rahul (Arjun Rampal). During the course of internal investigations (by a committee including an NGO rep played by Deepti Naval) it turns out that Maya and Rahul were romantically involved when she was junior in the organisation but their relationship soured before her rise to the top. Maya alleges that Rahul was upset at her appointment as the company’s NCD, tried to disrupt her work, plotted against her and began making sexual overtures to humiliate her. Rahul, however, claims she misunderstood his playfulness and was exaggerating friendly comments and behaviour to remove him – her biggest competition in the company – from her path.
Does Rahul describe an impossible scenario? Of course not. Are women saints who are incapable of such scheming? Of course not. But it’s important to consider why, when it comes to sexual crimes against women, we as a society are determined to focus on the small minority of women who may falsify claims instead of the vast majority with genuine concerns. The truth is that most women in India do not report cases of workplace sexual harassment because most organisations are male dominated and female colleagues too tend to be more judgemental than supportive of complainants. Besides, as with every other sexual crime in our country, society tends to point fingers at victims not perpetrators of workplace harassment too, without bothering to learn the facts of the case … “she’s such an aggressive bitch” … “why is she reporting it now and not 5 days / 1 month / 6 months / 1 year earlier?” … “why is she so friendly with men at the office?” … “why is she so unfriendly with men at the office?” … “why doesn’t she have a sense of humour?” … “why is she making a big deal about a few dirty jokes at the office?” … “why can’t she be one of the boys?” … “she’s such an unattractive / ugly woman, a guy that senior would have had better options” … “she’s doing this because she didn’t get a promotion she wanted” … “she was romantically involved with him and now wants revenge”, etc etc.
With so many people determined to destroy the reputation of the victim, with organisations weighted so heavily in favour of men, with few women willing to speak up for other women, it’s no wonder that women rarely report cases of sexual harassment at work. Set aside all strength of feelings about this issue, and Inkaar has little to offer even by way of entertainment. Sudhir Mishra (who gave us the far more assured and efficient Iss Raat ki Subah Nahin back in the 1990s) seems so anxious not to appear pro-women in Inkaar that he picks a case with questionable facts for his film, giving us a he-said-she-said kind of scenario where it’s highly possible that the woman is lying but you can’t be absolutely sure. What we are left with is such a confusing picture of what transpired between Rahul and Maya, that Inkaar ends up as a lightweight film.
Add to this the camera’s penchant for embracing Chitrangda with extreme close-ups at all times. Yes, the lady is beautiful, but if you must examine her face so extensively, then do be consistent with lighting and makeup; do pay attention to continuity and detail. There are scenes in which we see roughly textured skin from a particular angle, then seconds later from the same angle the actress’ skin is glowing and acne-less, bathed as it is in light (or the efficient use of CG?). To be fair to her and her equally hot male co-star, they can’t be blamed for this film’s failings. Inkaar is done in by its limited writing, inability to handle a sensitive issue with finesse, unwillingness to take a strong position, its fuzzy story and inconsistent characterisation leading to an infuriatingly non-serious climax.
The film begins with promise but degenerates quickly after the first half hour or so. Sexual harassment at the workplace needs to be addressed by Indian cinema. It’s an issue that deserves better than this wishy-washy film.
Rating (out of five): **
CBFC Rating (India):
Photograph courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/InkaarTheFilm