A Big No No…Inkaar


                 With hotties like Chitrangda Singh and Arjun Rampal, the latter though an ageing one, and a theme that is the subject matter of much debate, sexual harassment at work place, Inkaar was something I was looking forward to. However, I missed it and after seeing it on TV recently, I can just say Thank god I did! So where does “Inkaar” falter? Well, pretty much everywhere.

                 The subject matter per se is definitely worth a dekho. And to its credit the movie steers clear of any black and white answers. As Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) puts it very succinctly, it’s the woman and her mood that decides what is harmless flirtation, and when this flirtation becomes something as strong and politically loaded as sexual harassment. The narrative rapidly moves back and forth in time and place as we, along with the Women’s Rights social worker played by Deepti Naval, try to decipher what conspired between the two protagonists. That is just about where the novelty ends and clichés take over.

        Rather than being a textbook or even real life example of the ambiguity of something like sexual harassment and the lacunae that such laws have, the movie becomes nothing more than a typical case of an office romance gone sour and the woman trying to get even by using the weapon most readily at her disposal- sexual harassment suit. Both the main characters, despite their small town roots, want to make it big in the dog eats dog world of advertising and leave no stone unturned in the process, including a so very typical affair with the boss. For all her rant about alpha males and the need for a woman to become an alpha female, Maya (Chitrangda Singh) is anything but a hapless woman fighting the glass ceiling. She knows the rules of the game and uses them to her advantage. There are plenty of hints on her capabilities that extend beyond office skills and how she has used her sexuality in landing some plum assignments. Her fiancée is not unaware of her wanderings either and in the light of such a background advises her to drop the case. Only that “hell hath no fury like a woman spurned” and she uses all available means to bring to ruin the man who has been her mentor, boss and lover. Not that Rahul is a saint by any stretch of imagination. He clearly is not but in a fight unto death, all is fair and Maya uses the one weapon only a woman can- sexual harassment.

                      The characterisation of both Maya and Rahul is sketchy and inconsistent at best. Ambitious, strong headed with few moral qualms both are quite a match for each other. Battle lines are pretty much drawn from the very beginning. How and when the casual affair becomes more than that for either, or both, of them remains unconvincing. In fact, it is only towards the end that we become aware of this deep-rooted, misdirected love or whatever one might want to call it. Moreover, it seems bruised egos and lack of communication is what led to lost love. Quite a volte-face after a damning suit! And then suddenly, abandoning the path of the greys where every side has two versions, the movie falls in the clichéd Bollywood love movie trap. What did I miss? This is all that I could ask.

          Inkaar is quite a let down from Sudhir Mishra who has films like “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi ” , “Chameli” and “Yeh Saali Zindagi” to his credit. It seems promising enough but only tentatively touches upon the subtleties of a sexual harassment at work place – that there are more than one versions of the same story and that women can be as sinning as sinned against- all this and much more could have taken the movie to a different level altogether but sadly that is not to be and we are left with yet another Bollywood cliché.




Kerastase Hair Ritual


 Kerastase was, for a long time, my favourite brand. Expensive, and at one point difficult to get in India, but oh so luxurious! That is before I went all natural and green and crazy in the head…call it what you will. However,I still have a soft spot for it and it is easily one of the best hair care brands. What they offer you is nothing short of sinful, decadent indulgence, especially if you go for one of their hair treatment spas or what Kerastase calls a “Hair Ritual”. Yeah…hair for them is sacred and anything where you take care of them needs to have the sanctity befitting a ritual..Whatever!!

                         I indulged myself profusely at the then newly opened Kerastase Exclusive Salon-Tress Lounge Prive located in the upmarket Sector 9 of Chandigarh. Probably one of the very few Kerastase Exclusive Salons in the entire country, it was an experience worth relishing especially if you can strike a deal and get them to draw up a package for you.DSC07709

                   Coming to the Rituals themselves, there is a wide variety to choose from and you are most likely to be totally lost. The in-salon rituals include Nourishing Rituals, Smoothing Rituals, Colour Radiance Rituals, Curl Design Rituals, Strengthening and Reconstructing Rituals, Volumising Ritual, Repairing and Firming Rituals, Scalp Care Rituals and Elixir Ultime Liquid- Gold Oil Ritual along with the recently launched “Fusio-Dose” that addresses your primary and secondary hair concerns in one sitting. At the highest end of this high-end brand are rituals like “Chronologiste Caviar Ritual” and “Kerathermie Ritual”. Confused? Probably and rightly so. As if this is not enough, the same ritual can have two variants- “Express” that, as the name indicates, takes lesser time and “Experience” which includes a mist treatment for the hair and takes more time. And then there is a 10 minute “Instant Conditioning Ritual” to accompany regular services like haircuts, blow- drys and hair colour…phew ! Yeah…It is better to tell them your hair and scalp concerns, and let the staff advise you. Luckily, the staff at Tress Lounge Prive is well trained and qualified enough to guide you. Still it never hurts to hear them and apply your own mind at the same time as these Rituals cost a bomb starting from approx. Rs 1600/- and going up to about Rs 3200/- for a Kerastase Chronologiste. So do check up before starting and go with what your budget allows. Even the basic ones are a treat for you and your hair.

                  s_ritual_menuThe Ritual itself includes four steps – Diagnose, Bathe , Treat and Texturise. The Diagnosis starts with a questionnaire followed by an analysis of your hair and scalp with a magnifier. My perennial problem is of dry hair and an occasional dandruff resulting from this dryness. I was advised the “Smoothing Ritual”, a nourishing ritual, meant for dry, frizzy hair. The Kerastase Nutritive (orange coloured) range is the one meant for dry hair and that is what they used for this ritual. The “Bathing” is the shampooing, which thankfully did not turn out to be a nightmare as it often does for me, with water trickling down my back. Comfortable seats, water at optimum temperature and all is neatly done – hair wrapped and you are ready to start

                  DSC07701 Then comes the primary component of the Ritual – “Treatment” of the hair. A small fancy looking glass bottle, consisting of a concentrated dose of what your hair needs is taken, cap is replaced with a spritzer cap and the dose applied to your hair from root to tips. In my case it was the orange coloured cap again meant for dry, frizzy hair. Once the dose is applied, it is followed by a deep conditioning masque. Once that is applied comes the luxurious, relaxing massage lasting about 10-15 minutes…not one of your vigorous “champi” style massages but a very soothing, relaxing massage that can put you to sleep. Thereafter the masque is left on your hair for another 10 minutes or so. If you are going in for the “Experience” variant of the Ritual, the time of the massage will vary and will be followed by another 7-10 minutes of mist spray for the hair. I also tried the “Experience” Ritual later and found the mist to be a high-end version of the steamers that are used everywhere after a hair spa or hair oiling. Only that this one does not scald your scalp and is meant for better absorption of the product by the hair.

                             Finally the “Texturise” part. The masque is rinsed off and thankfully no water dripping down the back again. Then comes the blow-dry. While after other hair spas you are advised not to get a blow-dry, with a Kerasatse Hair Ritual a blow-dry is an integral part of the process as the Kerastase products are activated by heat. In any case, a heat protecting product, Elixir Ultime or Nectar Thermique, is applied before the blow-dry. Ordinarily I dread getting a blow-dry as I have ended with scalp burns way too many times. Besides the styling won’t hold even till the next morning unless a spray is applied to hold the style and I do not like these sprays. My hair is invariably left feeling like straw. But I was in for a pleasant surprise as the blow-dry was done beautifully without burning my hair or scalp. And miracle of all miracles, the style held until my next hair wash. Cannot thank the hair stylist, Mr Ajay, enough for that!!DSC07714

               The results, needless to say, depend to a great extent on the original condition of your hair. If you have totally fried, damaged and ruined hair, don’t expect a miracle in one sitting. When they assess your hair at the beginning, they will advise you a certain number of sittings to achieve the result you desire. Thereafter, probably a hair ritual once a month is what you will be advised along with a home care regimen. Obviously, they will suggest Kerastase products to maintain the results. But no matter what is the condition of your hair, you will definitely come out with much healthier and happier hair and you. The staff at Prive is courteous, attentive and always ready to pamper you with coffee, tea and mocktails while the stylist pampers your hair. Despite my conversion to all things green and eco friendly, I cannot resist the temptation of dropping by to pamper my hair and myself occasionally.



Something Special…Special 26


                    You know you are getting old when a movie set in the decade you grew up in is ready to be called a “period film”. 1987- The year that “Special Chabbis” is set in – when “Only Vimal” was the only brand worth its name in the Indian market, when Connaught Place was known as CP, a place one could aimlessly saunter in and watch life go by, when going to Chandigarh airport meant a trip through lush green fields; the  pre liberalisation era of Giani Zail Singh and Rajeev Gandhi, the days when Sunil Gavaskar and Sharjah reigned supreme,  a time when Government departments like CBI and IT were omnipotent and omniscient, when half the country would run and queue up for a walk-in interview with CBI, when a government job, no matter how ill paid, was the dream job anyone could think of. Yes the 1980s…when life for all its boredom was a tad bit simpler.

                 Unlike Neeraj Pandey’s earlier movie “A Wednesday” “Special 26” does not have a social message per se to convey but it beautifully recreates the India of 1980s. The charm lies in its almost rustic simplicity, even as it takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the shenanigans of the four conmen whose life it chronicles. We have seen the high tech versions of such heist movies, the most noticeable being “Ocean’s Eleven”, but these four poor country cousins of those L A brats achieve the unthinkable sans all gizmos and gadgets with only good old BSNL land line and Indian Airlines, with its heavily built air hostesses, to rely on. Why life, even robbery was lot less complicated back then.

                  It is to the director’s credit that despite having a star like Akshay Kumar, he is able to keep his starry persona in check, allowing him to blend in with the rest of the plain Janes creating a wonderfully balanced ensemble cast. Akshay’s love interest is superfluous no doubt as are the song and dance numbers but a star belonging to the 100 crore club has to be given some leverage. To give the devil his due, Akshay Kumar does hold his own in front of seasoned non-starry actors like Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpai. Both as the aviator wearing suave, seasoned leader of his team and as an ordinary IT/CBI officer in boring khakis and blues, he stands tall. His capacity for over the top comic act we have witnessed plenty in movies like “Hera Pheri” and “Bhool Bhulaiyan ”. A simple, down to earth con act – that is definitely a first for him and he carries it off with élan.

            Anupam Kher carries forth the “Khosla ka Ghosla” torch of an ordinary middle-aged man fighting the system. Only that this time he beats the system as a rogue instead of being beaten and victimised by it. As the ageing Sharma ji with an ever-increasing brood, he is the quintessential Indian middle class still caught in the rut of “roti, kapda aur makan”. Looks however can be deceptive as Manoj Bajpai discovers much to his cost. Sharma ji, at the end of the day, turns out to be the biggest surprise package of all.

              And what can one say about Manoj Bajpai? As Wasim, the hardcore honest CBI officer, he is the righteousness personified that Indian bureaucracy can only dream of. A no non-sense officer, he belongs to the chosen few who make it to the much-coveted bureaucracy but struggle daily to make ends meet. With his in your face attitude, he asks his superior if, pending his promotion and salary hike, he should start taking bribes! It is through him that one of the biggest shortcomings of the Indian bureaucracy is played out before us- complacency. So very convinced he is of his own skills and authority that he too falls prey to the machinations of the devious four. Jimmy Shergill, with his loaded “Janaab”, plays upon this very weakness – the fondness for “ji hazoori” by the subordinates. It is however because of this very humane failing that the audience feels for him as well though, throughout, you are rooting for the bad guys on the other side of the law.

                      Despite the minor glitches, “Special 26” works making it probably the best release 2013 has seen so far. Though widely different in its theme, it is yet reminiscent of “A Wednesday” in so many ways. “Special Chabbis” clicks because of those very reasons that made “A Wednesday” work- simple, matter of fact approach to their respective themes.