Interpretation is a weird and wonderful thing. This gets illustrated more than often in reviews when a certain reviewer takes a point from the movie that perhaps the director didn’t even notice he/she was making. I suspect the route I’m going to take whilst reviewing Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar may just be that.
The highly acclaimed director who happens to be one of my favorites returns to the screens after his last full feature film, Yeh Saali Zindagi, with yet another innovative style of story telling. Marketed as a film centered around a pending sexual harassment case, Inkaar is much more. Read on to find out what that ‘more’ exactly is.
Sudhir Mishra’s story takes place in the life of a elite ad agency company. When the national creative head, Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh), alleges a case of sexual harrasement against her mentor and CEO Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) a committee is called to investigate the case. The committee is made up of their various colleagues who are divided in their opinion of the situation. Heading the committee is Mrs. Kamdhar (Deepti Naval) who acts as the independent party brought in to ascertain the truth oft he matter. Mishra weaves an complex screenplay with this plot as both characters narrate their sides of the same story. The viewer is taken on a journey that explores the dynamics of the relationship shared by the two protagonist over a period of time.
An unconventional narrative style like this is either going to garner praises or be subjected to a lot of criticism depending on individual taste. I for one thought the timeline was cleverly set out and enjoyed being able to revisit the same scene from different perspectives. I also didn’t mind the flashback hopping that happened every now and then. The style is very relative to real life and makes you realise just how easily your opinion can differ depending on who’s telling you the story. This very point is illustrated in a dialogue by Deepti Naval who when asked to deliver a final decision refuses to do so because of how easily her opinion was challenged when the other party set out to tell their side of the story.
At the crux of it Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar talks about not the filmi grand love but rather flaw and easily wavered love.This love is conditional, flawed and definitely not as strong. A small punch to the ego by the same person alters the extreme emotion in a complete opposite direction of hatred. The very same ego does not allow you to submit to perhaps what you want to say or do. Of course the over-arching characteristic in this flawed love story is the ambitious nature of the two people. Mishra keeps it real and illustrates how people don’t just change overnight in the name of love. He even more obviously states this in a dialogue that that Rahul says in the climax portion of the film. It takes a bit of time for the audiences to come to this realisation but finally when the climax does roll in you accept that this is just two ambitious people in love who in their battle to balance their love lives, careers and egos have perhaps ended up at a very unpleasant position. As a reviewer very correctly stated once you do get to the climax of Inkaar you almost instantly feel like re-watching to understand it all better. In particular instantly went back to watch the final scene in the bathroom because there was so much complex emotional revelation about the two characters which you simply don’t register in one viewing.
The climax may infuriate some but for me was perfect for the kind of movie Inkaar was. It is after a long gap that I see a very appropriate and intelligent open ending. (The world has praised many unconventional open endings in the past few years in particular that of EMAET which failed to impress me even in the slightest. Shakun Batra please take note of what an intelligent open ending should feel like.)
Like all of Sudhir Mishra’s films Inkaar too doesn’t function on a magnanimous backdrop and a grand frame. The film is simply set in a board room for most of its duration and predominantly features only two faces, Arjun and Chitrangada. Had these two not delivered the film would have been an absolute disaster but thankfully for the makers, and us the audiences, they do. Arjun Rampal reaches new heights in his portrayal of Rahul Verma. The actor clearly has a strong sense of understanding when essaying subtle and dynamic roles. In particular I have to commend him on two scenes. Firstly the scene in which Maya demands to move to Delhi and secondly the climax portion. Kudos to Mishra for getting his actor to understand the character to such a depth that in various scenes you see the multiple layers Rahul has. This is particular prominent in the scene in which Maya demands to move to Delhi. In a matter of minutes you realise he essays emotions of extreme anger and hate but at the same time as an audience you have an inkling for a deep seated emotion of pure love that his ego is simply not letting him voice. The climax portion has to be one of the best scenes of Rampal’s career.
Chitrangada on the other hand is someone whom I have usually very little patience for but somehow she transforms when being directed by Sudhir Mishra. That is not to say she still doesn’t take it over the top in some scenes but for the large amount of scenes she’s bloody brilliant! What I like the most about her approach to the character is that she seems to be very at ease in Maya’s skin. Maya is a new age quirky woman who can be neurotic at times and at heart may just be the girl next door. You get a sense of all this from Chitrangada’s performance throughout the film.
Apart from the lead characters I was overjoyed to see Deepti Naval back onscreen. It truly is an honor to see her perform no matter how long or short the role. Another shout out has to go to Mohan Kapur who turns out to be quite the scene stealer, but then again he always has been one.
Much to my delight the initial assessments by the critics of this Sudhir Mishra directorial was quite incorrect in my opinion. Whilst the film is far from being flawless, a slow narrative pace being its main problem, it definitely doesn’t deserve the flak it received. The director’s vision is very clearly executed which is the most impressive aspect of the film. Powerful performances, an off beat narrative style and a message relative to everyday life is what Inkaar has to offer. If you’re wanting to stray off the path and explore a truly a different style of cinema than Inkaar is yours explore!