Critics review: Inkaar doesn't have the 'wow' factor

By HT

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangda Singh, Vipin Sharma
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Plot: The film deals with sexual harassment in corporate set-up. CEO of an ad agency, Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal), is accused of sexually harassing his colleague Maya Luthra (Chitrangda Singh), a copywriter who has been promoted as a National Creative Director and board member.

Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama
Rating: 3/5

Inkaar is a tough film to make and one must compliment Sudhir Mishra for sticking his neck out. Let me add, Inkaar is not just about sex. It's about greed, ambition and power play. Generally, in a majority of Hindi films, it's the man who seeks sexual favors, while the woman is projected as someone who's meek. But the woman here is shrewd and spiteful. When the two sexes collide, what the spectator gets to see is not just the issue that the film raises, but also the games the ambitious play to reach the top spot.

Verdict: On the whole, Inkaar is for spectators of serious cinema. Caters to a niche audience!

Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
Rating: 3/5

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t the kind of premise that Hindi cinema tackles every other day. In that respect, Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar is anything but an average Mumbai film. For the most part, it steers clear of the convenient certitudes that underpin popular movie narratives.

Inkaar does not dabble either in ‘yes’ and ‘no’, or in black and white. ‘May be’ and ‘perhaps’, in other words a whole lot of grays, underline the conclusions that it seeks to draw from what is obviously a complex thematic proposition.

Much of the film’s strength, for whatever it is worth, stems from its unbending and ambitious career woman-protagonist who stands up to the tyranny of Alpha males in a high-profile corporate set-up where the glass ceiling is an everyday, if only subliminal, reality. It is in the motivational detailing of this character that Inkaar goes off-track.

For a film that is remarkable in many significant ways, it ultimately disappoints because, despite showing the nerve to deal squarely with a demanding subject, it eventually chickens out of the prospect of going the whole distance to a coherent and radical conclusion.

The two principal figures in this intense gender politics drama are ad industry stars with small-town moorings. The girl is from Solan, the man from Saharanpur. Both are fiercely independent and the Mars-Venus divide proves difficult to bridge.

While these broad background brushstrokes revealed in passing are convincing enough, neither the power-puff girl nor her domineering boss appears to subsequently act in a manner that could be deemed consistent with their no-nonsense upbringing and approach to life.

A smug, suave CEO of a thriving ad agency, Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal), is accused of sexually harassing a pushy protégée, Maya Luthra (Chitrangda Singh), a copywriter who has risen through the ranks to the position of National Creative Director and board member.

The film moves back and forth in time as an internal inquest presided over by an independent social worker, Mrs Kamdar (Deepti Naval), unfolds in the form of flashbacks into the many flash points between the two antagonists.

On the acting front, barring a couple of the key confrontation scenes, the lead pair is unable to whip up the sort of corrosive energy that two hot-headed and motivated people should have produced in the bubbling cauldron-like setting of an airtight ad agency where, as one of them says, boys and girls work together “20 hours a day” and think up ads for “condoms, sanitary napkins and lingerie”.

Rampal is too bland and Chitrangada too self-absorbed to come across as two severely harried pros on a soul-sapping collision course. Neither conveys the enormous nervous tension that is bound to be inevitable when two aggressive combatants are locked in a life-altering personal clash.

The stray bright spots are provided by Vipin Sharma, who plays the cynical, wise-cracking agent provocateur on the probe committee who makes no bones about his scepticism over the sexual harassment allegation.

So, should you say no to Inkaar? The answer is neither yes nor no. May be would probably be more in order.

Verdict: If Inkaar is still a riveting film until the point it throws it all away, it is principally due to the superb editing.

Aniruddha Guha, DNA
Rating: 2/5

Sudhir Mishra seems to be in a weird space as a filmmaker right now. His penchant for simple storytelling and real, complex characters have resulted in some great films, and he tries to juggle his strengths with more mainstream elements in Inkaar. Nothing wrong with that, except that the result is an unfortunately botched attempt at portraying a relevant issue, even as Mishra struggles to strike a balance between style and substance. The film starts out with promise, but a jarringly loud background score, hammy actors and a cliched ending ruin whatever chance Inkaar had at being considered watchable.

Everything about Inkaar tries too hard to stand out in the most obvious manner – Sachin Krishn's cinematography is made up of a liberal display of style without it really complementing the story in any way. Editor Archit Rastogi's editing, similarly, is unnecessarily flashy in most places. In a pre-climax sequence, for example, the two protagonists have an intense, one-on-one talk in a washroom, the light of which annoyingly flickers repeatedly. The desperate attempt to create mood is ruined by the fact that it comes across more as a gimmick than a tool used to help narrate better.

There are a few things going for Inkaar. Shantanu Moitra's score is pretty hummable, although you wish a few songs didn't come about as abruptly. In Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh, Mishra gets two actors who 'look' the part, but that doesn't necessarily translate into good acting. To his credit, Rampal does well within his limitations, making Rahul Verma believable at least.

Chitrangada Singh, on the other hand, continues to display her lack of acting talent, one that seemed promising at one point but which has gotten progressively worse. She looks like a million bucks, but that stops distracting you from her real role – that of an actor – after a point. Naval and character actor Vipin Sharma, who plays the slimy Gupta, help earn some brownie points for the acting department.

Verdict: If you're wise, you'll refuse the offer to watch Inkaar at the multiplex near you.

Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters

To see all this depicted on screen, that too in a thriller is a novel idea in Bollywood. Director Sudhir Mishra starts off racily enough in "Inkaar" -- portraying life in a trendy ad agency and sketching his characters along the way.

Rahul Varma (Arjun Rampal) is the suave, hard-nosed CEO, who is accused of sexual harassment by his colleague Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh). In a series of flashbacks, they narrate their story to a social worker, (Deepti Naval) who has been appointed by the agency for the case.

Mishra makes it interesting enough at the beginning by introducing a bit of suspense, giving you a sense that you don't know who's right and who's wrong. But it all unravels pretty quickly.

In flashbacks, it is revealed that Rahul is Maya's mentor, guiding and helping her through ignorant clients and difficult campaigns. Soon, the employee-boss façade gives way and the two slip into a relationship, one that goes awry when Maya wises up to Rahul's philandering ways.

Rahul and Maya's flashbacks are peppered with ear-splitting background music, and much hamming on the part of Singh, who seems to think that shrieking in a high-pitched voice is what amounts to acting.

In contrast, Arjun Rampal drawls, grins lopsidedly and plays the charming, worldly-wise CEO to the hilt. But what is really at fault here is Mishra's superficial handling of the subject and the way he concludes "Inkaar", rendering the narrative regressive and offensive both to women AND men.

The climax, again set to loud background music and a bathroom light that flickers irritatingly is so full of clichés and homilies that you wish this was the one time Bollywood hadn't taken the usual route and had dared to be different.

Verdict: Inkaar has the seed of a good story but the characters don't turn out to be ones you care about, nor does the narrative grip you enough to keep you engaged.

Rubina A Khan, Firstpost
Rating: 2/5

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.

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.

Verdict: The film ends on a strange note, not typical in the least, but bizarre would be the apt way to describe it.

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