It’s a thin line between office politics and sexual harassment when the attractive National Creative Director slaps a serious charge on the male CEO of an advertising agency. But all else takes a backseat when the whole edifice comes tumbling down to hug the new adage: hell hath no fury like a human scorned – gender be damned.
The plot: A Yashraj film (read: Band Baaja Baaraat) said it well: ‘Jisse pyaar karo usse kabhi na vyapaar karo’. It’s easier said than done considering the tons of hours spent together at the work place by upwardly mobile colleagues. In the words of accused Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal), casual daily banter like, ‘Hi handsome’, ‘hi sunshine’, ‘hey, beautiful legs’, is absolutely essential to take the tension and fatigue out of a hectic work schedule. But ultimately, the fine line between casual flirting and sexual harassment is drawn according to each one’s perspective.
The entire equation between mentor Rahul and spunky-eager protégée Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) is unspooled in bits and pieces when mediator Mrs Kamdar (Deepti Naval) sifts through the allegations and arguments raised by both parties, with stray comments and incidents supplied by their colleagues.
The good: The initial look and feel of the film brings a nostalgic whiff of the Madhur Bhandarkar-Bipasha Basu starrer Corporate. However, this one lingers in that one office where the accent is solely on the mud-splashing spar between mentor and protégée. The story penned by Manoj Tyagi takes an engrossing ‘whose side are you on’ look at corporate shenanigans, before it unfortunately peters out into a romantic cliché.
The performances are bang-on smart. Arjun Ramal’s transition from stoic-nice mentor to hot-headed, commitment-phobic, alpha male is impressive. Chitrangada makes a feisty attempt to be Maya but the effort registers. Vipin Sharma as onlooker Guptaji (on Rahul’s side) and Deepti Naval as caught-in-the-middle Mrs Kamdar are also memorable.
The bad: Low on visual quality because most of it is shot in the interrogation room, the narrative style swings from a monologue in the room to a flashback which makes the viewing both a drag and a bit puzzling. The urge to be stark is apparent as dialogues like, “Does that mean every time he walks into the room I should spread my legs?” and “So you think everything will be fine if I sleep with you?” intermittently pop up for shock value. The repeated question Rahul asks Maya towards the end (“Did you sleep with him?”) is a dampener as the thrust may be a woman’s courageous pitch to be taken seriously, but ultimately it all boils down to her virtuousness.
While the theme of sexual harassment makes a strong case for a riveting story, the screenplay itself is naive and stumbles into clichés. The end is a disappointment – rather like a tease who leaves his/her target feeling deflated after promising elating foreplay.
Overall: The feminist overtones, the theme and the thought, are commendable. It’s the treatment that makes you feel, maybe you can dodge this one after all.
– Pooja Thakkar