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'Sexual harassment happens in all spheres of life'

Last updated on: January 15, 2013 13:14 IST

'Sexual harassment happens in all spheres of life'

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Rajul Hegde in Mumbai

Director Sudhir Mishra's forthcoming film Inkaar deals with the issue of sexual harassment at work, focusing especially on the advertisement industry.

The film has been a talking point because of its bold scenes and explicit dialogues.

Chitrangada Singh and Arjun Rampal, who star in the film, talk to Rajul Hegde about the film and their roles together.

What attracted you to this film?

Chitrangada: It is very rare to be offered such a part. It's very interesting, challenging and has lots of layers. The film spans seven years. It shows how a girl changes emotionally and physically with her career.

It's a straightforward, simple, linear love story. The situations bring sexual harassment. All of it put together makes it a brilliant film.

Arjun: When the script first came to me, I wasn't happy with it. But I wanted to work with Sudhir because he is a marvellous director. So we reworked it; that took three months, but it worked for the better.

When you watch a movie, it needs to be captivating and engaging. If you are creating that, then you are automatically getting entertained.

We have really worked hard together and have got some really good stuff. The characters are layered; there are opinions about sexual harassment which is governed by an ambiguous law.

It can be against a man or a woman. Who is being victimised? You will explore that in the course of the film. There is a nice message at the end of the film.


Image: Arjun Rampal and Chitrangdha Singh in Inkaar


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Chitrangada: Sexual harassment is not very prevalent in Bollywood

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Tell us a bit about your characters.

Chitangada: Maya is a very ambitious and emotional person. She wants to go very high in her career without any hassles and gets caught in this relationship at the same time.

She is an interesting character because she makes certain choices and stands up for herself when there is a case of sexual harassment. A lot of people think of the company's reputation and image so nobody wants to actually talk about it.

Arjun: Rahul is a chilled-out person. He is hardworking, confident and does his job well. He is emotional but doesn't allow it to come between his work.

Sudhir Mishra's film is not from one dimension; it's always a mix of both good and bad for the characters. Here the incidents and situations grow with the flow of the characters.

When you are in a position of authority, you want to secure it, and sometimes you react to situations in a way that can create hell for your future.

Do you think sexual harassment is prevalent in Bollywood?

Arjun: What is sexual harassment? If someone is taking advantage of a person, if he is a boss pushing her into a corner, and causes her to have a nervous breakdown, then she has a right to give a complaint and say this person is sexually harassing me.

This happens not only in our industry but in all other spheres of life.

Chitraganda: Exactly. Actually, it doesn't happen much in our industry. Nowadays, for actresses there is lot of work available so you can decide whom you want to work with.

But it happens everywhere, in corporate offices or a government department. So everybody can relate to it.


Image: Sudhir Mishra, Chitrangada Singh and Arjun Rampal
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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Arjun: Doing intimate scenes came naturally to both of us

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You are working together for the first time. This film has several intimate scenes. So how did you break the ice?

Chitrangada: We shot a lot before we reached the intimate scenes. I was nervous while enacting some sequences. I had a mental block. Arjun would keep the atmosphere light on the sets by cracking some jokes in between the shots.

Arjun: We were on the same flight to Delhi and back. Sudhir had Chitrangada on his mind and she liked the script too but she liked it more after we re-did it.

We had a long chat on the flight, about the script, our concerns about the subject because it's bold, and discussed the scenes. I think communication is the best way to beak any kind of barrier.

How comfortable were you doing intimate scenes?

Arjun: It was very easy, and it came naturally to both of us. We were just waiting for it (laughs loudly). Chitrangada was very conscious, scared and shy.

I think the best way to do the scene is to make a joke out of it. We laughed a lot, so that we don't get conscious. It's not like we are on the bed and they start shooting. It's shot aesthetically and cut after they get the right scene.


Image: Movie poster of Inkaar


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Chitrangada: I wasn't very comfortable saying the bold dialogues

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Were you comfortable with the bold dialogues?

Chitrangada: It wasn't that uncomfortable because some lines had to be said in a certain way. The character had been driven to a point that she had to be ugly in her reaction.

Arjun: Sudhir makes you do a lot more than he keeps in the film. He gives you some really nasty lines and he knows that it will be chopped. But he will never tell you because he is building up to that.

Yes, she had some strong crazy lines to scream at this person because he wanted that kind of reaction from this woman.

How was it working with Sudhir Mishra for the first time?

Arjun: He is an overrated director. Yells and screams at everybody (laughs loudly).

He is a darling of a man. He is like a child, gets so involved with every detailing. He spent three months with me before we actually started shooting, just working on the script.

My wife (Mehr) was really fed up and said 'why this guy keeps coming home and spends so much time here every day?' (laughs). I think during this time we really bonded a lot.

Both of us were so clear about the film being made. It's one of the best experiences I have had. Sudhir has a knack of changing your performance, tweaking it a little bit between scenes.

Chitrangada, what do you have to say about your mentor?

Chitrangada: The changes that he makes, improvisation that he does, that little tweak that he makes in your performance, will make you look like something else.

I remember in my first film Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi, the first scene we shot where my character is waiting for Kay Kay (Menon) in a guest room. I had a dialogue in it and it was the first shot of my life. Sudhir said 'don't say a word' and I was quiet.

His last-minute changes make so much of a difference to the scene. He is a wonderful director and I owe so much to him.


Image: Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh in Inkaar


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Chitrangada: Any actor after a point would not like to be known as sexy

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Since you have acted in a movie together, can you be called friends or are you happy being called just co-stars?

Arjun: This movie allows you to break the thing of just being a co-star. The film is about high, strong emotions of these two characters who are at loggerheads right through. To create that, you have to push the envelope to get the level of trust and chemistry. So we did readings together, got insights about each other.

Chitrangada: We don't have to be overly nice to each other. We could ease into each other's company.

What is that one feature you find attractive about each other?

Chitrangada: I had posters of him, cut-outs, a collage on the wall. My mother shouted that it's like a paan ka dukan, so I started putting them inside my cupboard!

Yeah, he is really goodlooking.  What I like about him is he brings intelligence and grace to his character in the film.

Arjun: I didn't have her cut-outs on my wall (laughs). I have seen her in her first film and a few commercials and, yeah, she is an attractive person.

What I got to know about her is she loves adventure and sports. When a girl is sporty, it's very attractive and I really like that. At the same time, she is very sensitive, emotionally high-strung, and sometimes a baby on the sets. All the qualities make her lovable.

Chitrangada: He has never said so many good things about me in a year-and-a-half. (laughs)

Are you comfortable with labels like sexy, gorgeous, hot and sensuous or do you get embarrassed?

Arjun: In the beginning, it used to bother me a lot -- it still does bother me sometimes. I am contributing a lot more than just being a style icon or sexy.

It's not a bad thing; it's a way of appreciating something. It's got nothing to do with you because you have got the genes from your parents.

Chitranganda: I think it's great. Any actor, after a point, would not like to be known as sexy. But if somebody said that I am a great actor, I would take that compliment any day.


Image: Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh in Inkaar


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Chitrangada: Delhi is unsafe to an extent that I can't even describe it

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You are from Delhi, Chitrangada. Would you like to comment on the place being unsafe for women?

Chitrangada: I have stayed in Delhi for many years in a hostel. It was very unsafe. I can't tell you to what extent. There was a point when I started wearing salwar kameez because I didn't want to travel by bus in jeans.

There have been many incidents. When you are in a bus they start groping, and start laughing when there is another man. One day we had a big fight with some boys because they were troubling us everyday near our hostel. After that, they started taking the bike around us.

We complained to the cop who was around. He said, Kudh handle karlo na (handle it yourself), we have so much other work. And they laughed at the boys who were standing behind us. 

I think men come together when there is another man. Once, even the cop asked what we were doing outside the hostel late in the night. Actually, we had a night out on that particular day. That's ridiculous.

There is a debate over Bollywood and item songs being responsible for the way men look at women. Will you think twice before you take up an item number?

Chitrangada: Actually, I was offered two item songs, one before Kafirana (her item song in Joker) came and another after that.

The first one I rejected because it had horrible lyrics and the second was not going to be picturised aesthetically -- they wanted my ghagra to be used in a particular way.

Before affecting others I am sure it is going to affect us somewhere when we do that.


Image: Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh in Inkaar


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