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. Featuring advertising hot-shots Rahul (Rampal) and Maya (Singh), Inkaar shows the heat and dust from work- place lust. It begins with Rahul and Maya meeting in a swimming pool after an old affair, seven years spent apart – you’d rather like to know what they’re saying, but in what becomes an annoyingly familiar move, their words are drowned by background music. Next, Maya’s promoted by the company where Rahul is CEO and was her mentor – and lover.
Here’s where Inkaar should’ve begun rising – as Maya climbs the ladder, Rahul feels things shake and starts acting odious, passing wise-cracks or vibrating heat. Maya slaps a sexual harassment case onto him, to adjudge which social worker Mrs. Kamdar (Naval) arrives. But instead of becoming tauter, the film starts to unspool. Rather than let characters grow or scenes fully unfold, the camera careens around, frequently distracting. That’s when the background score isn’t flooding exchanges – although not drowning out Mrs Kamdar’s remark, “Arre, do khoobsurat log kaam par jayenge, time spend karenge, toh sex toh hoga.”
Alongside such howlers, the acting doesn’t hold. Rampal’s good at the snide, sardonic ex, recalling how he taught small-town Maya it’s not “Channel” for No. 5. His nasty-tasty Rahul makes some mark but the same can’t be said for Maya. Despite all that lovely make-up and the luscious hair, we just don’t get enough sense of Maya’s tightrope tangle between ambition and passion. But we do learn a lot about the corporate world presented here, where everyone gargles with whisky, throws up frequently and inappropriate office behaviour is necessary to pass the tedium of selling toothpaste.
In this odd-ball zone, even Mrs. Kamdar looks like all she wants is a drink and out, so there’s a vote – yup, a vote – on the harassment. That’s amidst Kanwaljeet flitting in and out as a B&W dad, characters dropping glasses like crystal full-stops and one asking another, “Ye sab kyun, kyun?!”, to hear – “Kyunki mein gusse mein tha!”
Advertising whizzes Rahul and Maya have an affair – one claims sexual harassment. Can the innocent present a strong-enough Inkaar?