Review: Inkaar

Inkaar review

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Singh, Deepti Naval

Director: Sudhir Mishra

Indian Express Rating: **

The way it begins, laying out a clear divide between a woman who claims she has been sexually harassed, and a man who counter-claims that she is totally off the mark, is a great draw. Because Maya ( Singh) is not a simpering lily. She is a professional, carving her way up in the cut-throat world of advertising, just the kind of woman who is the butt of your standard sexist jokes. And because Rahul ( Rampal) is no angel. He is Maya's boss, and he is the one who repeatedly tells us 'maine hi isko sab kuchh sikhaya hai' ( I have taught her everything).

We could well ask exactly what 'sab kuchh means', because when Maya enters the profession, she is a wet behind the ears newbie. And by the time we encounter her again, some years have elapsed, and we see her as a super successful, heading-to-the-corner-office woman. So um, 'everything' would include the entire compendium of getting that first creative right, or getting to that first goal well, or, well, getting to the top by using whatever weapons, sexual or otherwise, you have.

I started by applauding 'Inkaar', because it is so rare to see men and women, adult men and women in Hindi cinema. Mishra's better films have always attempted to give us characters who are not perfect, who are trying to get by, trying to get on, and still be people we can empathise with, without them being infantilized.

To begin with, the face-off between Rahul and Maya ( both are good-looking people but Rampal comes off the better of the two by a shade; the latter is singularly one-tone through the film) proves an engaging war of the sexes, through which societal prejudices and male attitudes come tumbling out. But then the director flubs it : he turns Maya into a clinging, hysterical female, which speaks to another kind of stereotype of the 'ambitious, wanting-to-climb-at-any-cost' woman, and he makes Rahul an improbable paragon, who does what he does because he has a 'valid' reason.

... contd.

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