Reviewing the Reviews: Inkaar

21 Jan,2013


Key Cast: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Singh

Written By: Sudhir Mishra

Directed By: Sudhir Mishra

Produced By: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures


Some said yay, some said nay, some said maybe. But all critics were in agreement over one thing – that Sudhir Mishra took a topical and sensitive issue like sexual harassment and botched it. Several female critics used the term ‘trivialise’ and most were disappointed with the bizarre, dithering climax.


The film got between two- and three-star ratings, nonetheless, maybe because it is a Sudhir Mishra film and he has made good films in the past.


Anupama Chopra of the Hindustan Times felt let down. “There are too many cheesy parties where everyone gets drunk, and the climax is a staggeringly disappointing cop-out. It undermines everything that has gone before. What, you wonder, was the whole war about? Arjun and Chitrangada work hard to give Inkaar heft. Both struggle to bring conviction to their characters. But ultimately the film remains a dish half-baked.”


Rajeev Masand of IBNLive commented, “The performances are of the skim-on-the-surface variety. Arjun and Chitrangada look like a dream and valiantly tackle difficult roles, but you get the idea that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Despite the bold, controversial theme, Inkaar fizzles out once the fireworks fade, not least because of its awkward climax – in the office restroom, of all places!”


Sukanya Verma’s review in was understandably angry. “In a sexual context, to judge sociable from suggestive and vice versa in a part-liberal, part-conservative society is highly precarious. One person’s idea of harmless flirtation could be another’s criteria for inappropriate conduct. But under NO circumstances is exploitation okay. No matter what line of work one is in, at some point, every individual has to decide on his/her own as to where they want to draw a line and when they need to object. Instead of expounding on the opaqueness of this matter with sensitivity and substance, Inkaar trivialises something so serious and rampant as sexual harassment into a terrible joke. I wouldn’t have so many issues with Sudhir Mishra’s new film if it wasn’t so irresponsibly promoting Inkaar as something it’s not. Especially now.”


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express was left unimpressed too. “The tough questions that the film had started to lay out for us, about what constitutes sexual harassment, the pressures to succeed in a demanding workplace, the moral and ethical dilemmas that have to be faced to reach the pinnacle, all get buried under a hurried, compromised end. Inkaar could have been truly radical. But it becomes a film that prefers to cop out, rather than deliver on the promise it held out so bravely in its initial passages.”


Aniruddha Guha of DNA was dismissive. “Sudhir Mishra seems to be in a weird space as a filmmaker right now. His penchant for simple storytelling and real, complex characters have resulted in some great films, and he tries to juggle his strengths with more mainstream elements in Inkaar. Nothing wrong with that, except that the result is an unfortunately botched attempt at portraying a relevant issue, even as Mishra struggles to strike a balance between style and substance. The film starts out with promise, but a jarringly loud background score, hammy actors and a cliched ending ruin whatever chance Inkaar had at being considered watchable.”


Srijana Mitra Das of the Times of India wrote, “You know those cakes that look gorgeous in pictures but collapse when they bake? Inkaar is like that. Polished-looking, its edges – the tension of feeling harassed at work, office politics, ego flashes – hold rather well. But its centre collapses in a soft mess.”


According to Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV, “Much of the film’s strength, for whatever it is worth, stems from its unbending and ambitious career woman-protagonist who stands up to the tyranny of Alpha males in a high-profile corporate set-up where the glass ceiling is an everyday, if only subliminal, reality. It is in the motivational detailing of this character that Inkaar goes off-track. For a film that is remarkable in many significant ways, it ultimately disappoints because, despite showing the nerve to deal squarely with a demanding subject, it eventually chickens out of the prospect of going the whole distance to a coherent and radical conclusion.”


Janhavi Samant of Mid-day ranted, “The biggest problem area with Inkaar, and most films revolving around workplace issues, is the portrayal of the female protagonist. For such an ambitious woman, Maya is shown to be a clueless trainee, remarkably insecure about her own rise, a paranoid leader, and prone to frequent emotional outbursts in work situations. Another problem area is the many brazen generalizations about scorned women, how flirting is natural when beautiful men and women work together all hours of the day, the fine line between camaraderie, flirting and harassment. Maybe a little more time in an actual office observing day-to-day dynamics between colleagues of the opposite sex or interacting with mature women professionals would have added a little insight to the plot. One expected more maturity from a Sudhir Mishra film.”


Anuj Kumar of The Hindu wrote, “Mishra has a knack for hitting where it hurts, but here, after a point, he strikes more on the surface than at the soul. When he delves into the motivations and impulses of his characters, the drama is not consistently satisfying and the climax is a disappointment because in an attempt to leave with a ray of hope, Mishra tones down the denouement. After going almost all the way, he takes the ‘escapist’ route.”


Pratim D Gupta of The Telegraph liked the film but pointed its flaws. “Inkaar has an excellent first half, which really puts you in the middle of the flashy, fierce world of advertising and in the ring with these two drop-dead-gorgeous individuals looking for more than love in their lives. Or so we are made to think. And while the tempo is kept up in the second half, the rest-room resolution is a disappointing and cliched copout that kind of subverts the whole serious issue of sexual harassment at the workplace.”


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror stood out with a four-star rave, “Inkaar is not about office politics as you might imagine, even though many moments shape an accurate portrayal. It is not about sexual harassment in the workplace as it is being marketed though that is the searing crucible in which complex, often unnatural dollops of human emotion are left to sputter and interact, never coalescing. Everything else is an elaborate backdrop. And finally when the truth unravels – when motives come to light – I had a great urge to watch the film again. And with movies, this urge supersedes all flaws.”


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