Sudhir Mishra, the maker of films like Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi, Chameli and Yeh Saali Zindagi feels that this is the best time for cinema. “There are a bunch of exciting writer-directors, actors are not afraid of experimenting and audiences are ready to accept new things. We have gone back to the 1950s, which was a great era for films,” says the veteran filmmaker, whose upcoming film Inkaar deals with the hitherto unexplored subject of sexual harassment in the workplace.
When writer Manoj Tyagi approached him with a story based on real sexual harassment cases, Mishra was not convinced about making a film on that. He asked Tyagi to write a film with two points of view in which the audience doesn’t know who is right or wrong. “The sexual harassment is the trigger but there are a lot of other issues confronting women in the workplace. They have to deal with their own ambitions when they are in a position of power. They are subjected to the same pressures, politics and intrigues as men. It’s a tough world out there for them. At the same time, men have to learn to deal with a woman boss, get used to the fact that when a woman says no it means no and not make snide remarks. The results are volatile and that’s what becomes exciting as a film,” explains Mishra.
When it came to casting, Chitrangda Singh and Arjun Rampal were his first choices for the film. “I have worked with Chitrangda and she has never played a grey character. She brings a vulnerability and strength to the character. As for Arjun, I wanted somebody to play a charismatic person and he fit the bill. He has brought out the complexity of the situation with a lot of grace,” says Mishra, who is so happy with him that he wants to work with the actor again.
As for setting the story in an advertising agency Mishra says that it was the best place because “men and women work together a lot at all sorts of odd hours and it’s a grey area, where conversations around sexuality take place”. He, however admits that harassment can take place anywhere including a government office, an academic institution or a hospital. “It happens in villages also. For long we have been pushing it under the carpet but the genie is out of the bottle, and the country will have to learn to deal with it,” he says assertively, also referring to the shocking brutal Delhi rape case.