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Woman on top

Sudhir Mishra brings together Arjun Rampal and Chitrangda Singh to look at the other side of the man-woman equation in Inkaar, releasing January 18. A t2 chat with the maker of films like Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Khoya Khoya Chand.

Inkaar has a very intriguing premise…

The film presents two points of view and doesn’t tell you what’s right or wrong. It’s about a man and a woman confronting each other and the issues that women have to contend with in the workspace. When men lose their power and see a woman gain the upper hand, equations can change.

I have lived my life with very strong women; I have never known women as victims. My film looks at the other side of the man-woman equation. Does a woman have the right to be ambitious? Does a woman have the right to say ‘no’ after she has said ‘yes’? Does a woman have the right to ditch a man without offering any reason, just because she has fallen out of love with him? I think she does, on all three counts.

Indian men behave as if they have given women their freedom. My film, at every step, points out that no man has the right to do that. Inkaar talks about a woman’s right to be wrong. What’s wrong if she’s ambitious and gets carried away? Only men shouldn’t be entitled to that.

Many are saying that this is a new subject for me but I have always made films like this. What about Geeta Rao (played by Chitrangda) in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi? Even in her personal relationships, she always exercised the right to choose.

There is a call for stricter laws on sexual harassment in India. How relevant is Inkaar in the context of what’s happening in the country?

I really don’t want to associate my film with this. Inkaar was made some eight-10 months ago and to actually tie it with the wave of unrest in the country wouldn’t be fair to the movement as well as to my film. At the same time, I am so happy and impressed that the youth of our country have come together for a common cause. This (Delhi) girl has become a symbol against all that is regressive and sick in our society. And yes, my film, in that sense, hits out against all things regressive and prejudiced. Inkaar doesn’t really talk about extreme cases like this, but it does deal with issues that women have to face every day. Every woman has been violated in some sense or the other, at some point in time. It happens in homes, at the hands of kin, with friends and strangers.

Does the film take inspiration from real-life incidents in the workspace?

Yes, many have been part of our research for the film. You read about incidents of sexual harassment in newspapers and on the Internet. It’s rife in almost every big organisation.

What was the biggest challenge of making a film on such a sensitive issue?

The biggest challenge was that this is a subject which always invites various opinions. This film is a result of all the interactions and relationships I have had with the women in my life, most of which have left a lasting impression. The film is a bit of a tribute to all those women who have touched my life in some way or the other.

You have apparently been asked to cut down on the number of times (300!) the word ‘sex’ is used in the film?

There is this hypocrisy in our society where any conversation involving sex almost disturbs the status quo. In a country where the word has crept into youth vocabulary, the Central Board of Film Certification really needs to broaden its outlook.

What does Arjun Rampal bring to the role of Rahul Verma — Chitrangda’s boss who she accuses of sexual harassment?

Arjun brings a certain charisma to the role. I can safely say that this is his best performance. Arjun fits very well into the mould of a man who leads an organisation, has clients eating out of his hands and is an absolute charmer. I feel he’s an actor whose time has come.

How have you seen Chitrangda grow as an actress from Hazaaron… to Inkaar?

I think she’s grown a lot as an actor and has the potential to do even better. I cast her because she fits the role perfectly… the character required a certain innate strength, intelligence and femininity, all of which Chitrangda embodies. She is someone who I will always cast if she suits a role.

Priyanka Roy


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