Saturday, 19 January 2013

Movie Review- Inkaar love in the times of ambition

Something as simple as a vibe can form something as enormous as an opinion.

"Khamoshiyan awaaz hain labzon mein bass inkaar hai" - Sameer Anjaan's evocative lyrics and Shamir Tandon's compelling composition follows you out of this searing, probing drama on work ethics in corporate places.

This is one occasion when you don't mind being stalked.

There are no item songs in 'Inkaar'. The female form is here objectified not through celebratory songs but in the gender perceptions that often distinguish the male viewpoint from the female. The songs and music (largely by the talented Shantanu Moitra) seem to mock the sexual frisson between the two protagonists as they circle each other in a moral pugilism that can break both or one of them.

It is not easy being ambitious and true to the conscience. Towards the end of this riveting drama, Chitrangada confronts Arjun in a washroom where the light flickers menacingly on her ravaged face.

"Can people like you and I who want more from life than love, ever be happy?" she wonders in a choked voice.

Is Rahul Varma really guilty of sexual harassment? Or is the ambitious social climber Maya Luthria imagining things for her own convenience? Did she lead him on until it suited her ambitions and then cry 'harassment' when she had made her way to the top of the ladder and didn't want anyone peering up her skirt?

That versatile and vigorous storyteller Sudhir Mishra, doing yet another thematic flip-flop after the edgy crime drama 'Yeh Saali Zindagi', provides no easy solutions to the question of the male gaze and the female perception. 'Inkaar' makes you stop and think about that diaphanous divide between consensual flirting and sexual harassment.

But this is not a version of Barry Levinson's 'Disclosure'. Sudhir Mishra's treatise on the gender equation in an ambitious environment is far more dense and complex than a simple buffet of tongue-in-cheek innuendos interspersed with moral homilies. And yes, Arjun and Chitrangada are far more skilled actors than Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. It would be no exaggeration to say that the film wouldn't have worked with any other actors.

Arjun, in fact, grows better with each film, so much so that nowadays a film featuring him is an assurance of innovative aesthetics. Here, he sinks into the part of the part-mentor part-tormentor with impassioned familiarity. Arjun knows the world of the cut-throat corporate competitiveness where every promotion for an individual could be a moral and ethical demotion. As played by Arjun, Rahul Varma comes across as both sensitive and arrogant, considerate and sexist. He's a bit of a mystery, really.

Even so, Inkaar, with a running time that's little above two hours, starts out with promise and engages considerably until the plot hits a massive writer's block and transforms into an exasperating Alice who's lost her way and been kicked out of Wonderland. The upshot is a climax so moronic, it's easily one of the worst I've seen in recent times.

Truth be told, Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada, looking sharp, self-assured and comfortable in each other's presence, do the best within their limitations to not contribute to Inkaar's troubles, which is also guilty of wasting Shantanu Moitra's electric compositions around a lacklustre scenario.

In the end though, what could have been an engrossing take on modern-day relationships in a frantic, workaholic culture is single-handedly destroyed by warped publicity and ridiculous conclusions.

So am I going to recommend why two sorted-out professionals are dumbed down to thick-headed fools and sexual harassment is just another day in office? I don't think so.

Star -3/5

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