'Inkaar' movie review

It's a film about love, hate and one-upmanship between its protagonists
'Inkaar' movie review

Sudhir Mishra's brand of cinema consists of an oddball love story in different, subversive setups. Some work with the audience; others invite wrath and irritable reactions. Either way, the movies turn out to be honest, real and progressive. By progressive, this writer points not only at the attitude Mishra's films try to depict; but also the logical twists, turns and revelations they pass by. Be it the disturbingly poignant 'Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi', the almost-oxymoronic 'Khoya Khoya Chand', or the director's previous 'Yeh Saali Zindagi', all of them have shown love in different shades, some gray, and some just notches darker.

Set in an advertising agency amidst a creatively driven workforce that calls itself KK & Doyle, the national Creative Director Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) files a rather "strong" complaint of sexual harassment against the company's CEO Rahul Nanda (Arjun Rampal). Fearing for the reputation of the company, a meeting is organized with a neutral third party, a social worker (Deepti Naval) who is assigned to listen to both the sides equally. As skeletons come out of the closet and agendas come out in the open, the lines between truth and lies get blurred into something that has a deeper motive.

Before giving any possible opinion on the film, the writer of this article would love to state that the marketing of the film was misdirected and wrongly focused. The first look poster had been laced with ambitious subtext, but the trailers and promotional television material focus on the one thing that the director never wanted to focus at all: sexual harassment. While the movie is a love story that depicts the intense sexual tension between a success story and his protge, the McGuffin of the storyline (sexual harassment) is what turns the tables between the two characters. An office romance, which has powerhouse writing by Manoj Tyagi ('Jail'), Mishra's direction handles Tyagi's ideas on paper with much more clarity and honesty than Tyagi's regular collaborator Bhandarkar's now tried-and-tested reality-clichs.

In fact, the clever narrative and the crisp dialogues further the grounded look and feel of the film. The background of the official 'sexual harassment' complaint, and the lack of intensity with which they handle it will find a mixed audience. Some might find the technique refreshing with its lack of preachiness and abundance of subtext; some might look at it as an insult to the issue. Overall, however, it must be noted that this is one of the best ways to present an issue that is only part of the background of a completely different main story. The pre-climax scene is highly intense, with performances, writing and execution at its best. This scene leads to a niche climax that makes some think about where life can lead people with a lot more to lose than they know.

Technically, the movie is top-notch, with every technical prowess working as a device to further the storytelling in the film. Cinematography by Sachin K. Krishn ('Raajneeti', 'Yeh Saali Zindagi') has streaks of brilliance, with every close-up shot depicting a deeper sense of emotion than it would superficially show. Editing is slick and snappy. Use of J-Cuts (entry of the consecutive scene's audio before the video) and L-Cuts (vice-versa) as transitions more often than cross-fades and fades-to-black make more sense. The initial match cut is more like the quiet before the storm. Production design by Gautam Sen is simplistic, yet expansive. What works more, in minor transitions that support experimental edit gimmicks, is the sound design by Sreejesh Nair ('99', 'Jodhaa Akbar'). The minor, subtle effects give a sense of class and poise to the film. Music by Shantanu Moitra ('Eklavya') consists of some underrated gems that have been heavily underused in the film. Deserving extensive praise is the music of 'Khamoshiyaan Izhaar Hai', which supports Swanand Kirkire's situation-friendly lyrics.

The execution of a film like 'Inkaar' is supported by two of Hindi cinema's most competent performers. Arjun Rampal is a highly underrated actor with a unique range of understated expressions. Chitrangada Singh is brilliant. From her fiery expressions to her ease of performing a character with rather complex emotions, Singh is at her best here. The chemistry between the two leads is as superlative as would be written on paper. Of the supporting cast, Deepti Naval scores. Not only does she look absolutely ravishing in the film, it's her effortless performance that takes the cake. At some points during the film, the viewers are bound to feel sympathetic toward her character's dilemma in the movie. Vipin Sharma ('Taare Zameen Par', 'Saheb Biwi aur Gangster') is hilariously understated, and yet another performer in the film. Ditto for an equally confident Shivani Tanksale ('Shaitan', 'The Dirty Picture') as the acerbic colleague of Rampal's character. Mohan Kapoor ('Soundtrack', 'Hate Story') is powerful as the headphone-and-iPad-clad employee with an advanced sarcasm level. Others are just as efficient!

What might not work in the film depends on the mindset of the viewer entering the theatres to watch the movie. Expectancy levels and mindsets that support these have repeatedly been known to affect the viewer's openness to accept films in the past. This film too, like a few others, will go down as a film that wrongly promoted by the producers, thereby affecting the message of the original product.

Overall, 'Inkaar' is a well-made film about love, hate, one-upmanship, power politics and betrayal, laced with just the right amount of sexual tension between the protagonists. Supported by a brisk screenplay, powerhouse performances and technical brilliance (editing, cinematography, sound design), this film is a must watch for those who love different cinema. The writer of this article concludes, not by persuading the reader to watch the film, but instead by persuading the marketing departments of some films not to wrongly promote them at the cost of their quality and content.

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