Real life stories, unfortunately, are not so forgiving. And real life battles not always between equals. If one were to make allowance for cinematic liberty, bearing in mind the ugly reality around us, Inkaar certainly held up a mirror to it, which is among the significant functions of good, thought provoking cinema.
Of all the outrage that followed Tehelka boss Tarun Tejpal scandal, especially on social networking sites, there was a comment which caught my attention in particular. It was about the likelihood of film-makers Madhur Bhandarkar and Ram Gopal Varma being in a race to make a film on the shameful episode as it were.
As it turns out, they have already been beaten at the turnstiles, a film on sexual harassment at workplace was released earlier this year. Inkaar by Sudhir Mishra did not create a huge stir at the box-office, but one remembers the film for its rather accurate and sensitive telling of a rather complicated subject. A story about two leading ad executives Rahul and Maya played by Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh. Rahul, the CEO of the agency, is accused of sexual harassment by Maya, a former protégée, who returns to his life and the agency only to supersede him in the power stakes. A committee is set up to examine the charges and the facts that emerge are telling but so complex and intertwined that it is difficult to separate the black and white.
Against the backdrop of the recent ‘unfortunate incident’ of a young journalist being sexually attacked bringing to light misdemeanours of her mentor, Inkaar, seems more relevant now than ever before. What the film establishes is that workplace dalliances especially those between a superior and his/her subordinate are fraught with danger and the lines of what is acceptable behaviour often blurred. It also established that men, especially those in positions of power at workplace, have a sense of entitlement that prevents them from considering transgressions as objectionable. Rahul, played by Arjun Rampal, a good-looking, successful and popular man is unable to handle the changed dynamics when Maya, resurfaces in the agency and nips him to the plum post. That they shared a romantic association in the distant past only muddies the water further. Rahul’s inability to accept an altered power equation and subsequent mishandling of the situation send both Maya and him hurtling from one conflict to another till it’s all a big, sorry