First tell me, is there only one ad agency in this whole country? Must be, because in Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar, KK & Doyle — the agency where the so-called sexual harassment drama unfolds — doesn’t have any staff or client turnover. The poor employees of this delightful agency, not only stick to their jobs but also party with their bitchy colleagues and bosses and don’t mind freely voicing their comments about their colleagues’ office romance-turned-sexual harassment case.
Oh yes, this ain’t a straight sexual harassment case where a male colleague makes subtle overtures towards a female colleague and the said victim suffers till she can’t take anymore and then complains to the management.
Narrated as the proceedings of a sexual harassment case in front of a committee representative, Inkaar’s a strange case: It is about KK & Doyle CEO Rahul Verma and trainee-turned-chief-copywriter-turned National Creative Director (this designation must have been uttered more than 108 times in the film, I swear) Maya Luthra and their romance as boss-trainee, break off as boss and chief copywriter, and corporate one-upmanship as CEO and NCD as the latter rises in work hierarchy.
The whys are unknown (or maybe Chitrangada’s bosom revealing sarees at work presentations are to blame), but Rahul and Maya start sleeping with each other during a work trip in Thailand. Rahul teaches his protégée to present her pitches confidently, power dress and pronounce ‘Chanel’ instead of calling it Channel. Maya’s campaigns and well-earned promotions soon start to be viewed with suspicion by her agency colleagues. It also seems to her that Rahul is just not that much into her; there are after all many leggy models in the advertising world who are good at mango-sucking.
In a fit of jealousy and regret, Maya takes a transfer to Delhi. She returns after seven years and a stint in New York to be crowned, oh that much-hated word, National Creative Director. But it seems Rahul’s not too happy with her rise. He stalls her assignments, doesn’t handover info easily, makes a lot of inappropriate comments and makes her lose a few clients. The uber-stylish Maya, bambooed by the super-boss, freaks out completely and complains of harassment.
Clearly these are roles of a lifetime for lead actors Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh. Inkaar keeps them in tight focus and rarely lets them off the hook. The pair too tries its best to sizzle, but the sizzle-free story lets them down completely. Deepti Naval is completely wasted while the rest are just stock characters.
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 generalisations 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.
During their Thailand trip, Rahul calls up a fully dressed Maya while she is in the lobby and asks her meet him in the room immediately. Strangely though, in the very next scene when Rahul comes to her room, Maya is lounging in a bathrobe with wet hair and then changes behind a thoroughly transparent glass door. Was it deliberate of Maya to lure Rahul? Or a major continuity lapse?