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.
The film's promotional campaign has been screaming out the plot: the CEO of an advertising agency is accused of sexual harassment by the agency's national creative director. The CEO, in turn, claims the director's out to malign him due to professional differences. The film starts off with the company putting together a committee made up of four employees and an outside moderator (Naval), who interrogate Rahul Verma (Rampal) about the allegations levelled against him by Maya Luthra (Singh).
The film oscillates between scenes of the committee interrogating the two, and those that show what actually transpired between them. Writer Manoj Tyagi – a Madhur Bhandarkar specialist – borrows, of all things, Aaron Sorkin's narrative style for The Social Network, with characters narrating the story through testimonies. The result's hardly as scintillating.
Everything about Inkaar tries too hard to stand out in the most obvious manner – Sachin Krishn's cinematography is made up of a liberal display of style without it really complementing the story in any way. Editor Archit Rastogi's editing, similarly, is unnecessarily flashy in most places. In a pre-climax sequence, for example, the two protagonists have an intense, one-on-one talk in a washroom, the light of which annoyingly flickers repeatedly. The desperate attempt to create mood is ruined by the fact that it comes across more as a gimmick than a tool used to help narrate better.
There are a few things going for Inkaar. Shantanu Moitra's score is pretty hummable, although you wish a few songs didn't come about as abruptly. In Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh, Mishra gets two actors who 'look' the part, but that doesn't necessarily translate into good acting. To his credit, Rampal does well within his limitations, making Rahul Verma believable at least.
Chitrangada Singh, on the other hand, continues to display her lack of acting talent, one that seemed promising at one point but which has gotten progressively worse. She looks like a million bucks, but that stops distracting you from her real role – that of an actor – after a point. Naval and character actor Vipin Sharma, who plays the slimy Gupta, help earn some brownie points for the acting department.
There are rare moments in Inkaar that click, like Mishra cheekily referencing his own film, when at an ad film presentation for a condom brand, Verma comes up with the tagline, Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahi. The film, though, comes nowhere close to that, or any other, Mishra film. If you're wise, you'll refuse the offer to watch Inkaar at the multiplex near you.