After watching ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’, I remember discussing the concept of a mockumentary with my colleagues at AVS and why it has not been celebrated in Indian cinema. Little did I know that we will be gifted with something even better on Christmas eve. For all the mediocre Indian content that has been curated, I think it is fair to say that Netflix has ended the year on a high with ‘AK vs AK‘.
AK vs AK is a dark comedy-thriller, meta-film directed by Vikramaditya Motwane following the lives of Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap, who play exaggerated versions of themselves. After a public spat that leaves Anurag Kashyap on the brink of isolation from the Indian film fraternity (nepotism much?!), he decides to take revenge by kidnapping Sonam Kapoor and daring Anil Kapoor to find his daughter within the stipulated amount of time while the camera is still rolling as Anurag Kashyap shoots his next experimental film. What follows next is 108 minutes of a fictionalized take on almost non-fictionalized performances.
Despite being over three decades old in the Indian film industry, Anil Kapoor is often known to push the envelope when it comes to his projects. Be it his performance in the Indian television show ‘24’ or his association with Danny Boyle’s Academy award-winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ or his performance in ‘Mission Impossible 4’ with Tom Cruise. In 2020, Anil Kapoor continues the trend by agreeing to shoot this around his pompous, yet fictional attitude of being relevant after so many years and for an OTT platform. His underlying frustration while dancing on stage or his venting as a helpless father after being hit by a car – there are multiple scenes in the film that stand testimony to his broad range as an actor. Not to forget the pure Nostalgia of watching Anil Kapoor dance the signature step of ‘My name is Lakhan’. While watching the movie, I was convinced that Anurag Kashyap is a far better actor than I thought him to be. Anurag playing the role of a delirious cinema genius almost makes us believe that he might be one in real life. I have to give a huge shout out to Vikramaditya Motwane for his direction. For a successful metacinema, it is important to understand the thin line that differentiates fiction from non-fiction. Motwane has just about done it to perfection with the help of guerrilla-style filmmaking using handheld cameras.
I liked that this film within a film is made within the realm of self-awareness. Be it people mistaking Anurag Kashyap as Anurag Basu or the panting of the camera person while chasing Anil Kapoor in a railway station. As an extension to the self-awareness realm, this film has also portrayed the inhuman factoid that public figures may go through. Despite seeing someone being bloodied and asking for help, the first thing that people do is take their phones out for a selfie. Isn’t that an unfortunate plight?! This received some criticism for its excessive use of foul language. If we devoured the foul language in Mirzapur, I think I am ok with the obscenities used in AK vs AK. My review would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the seamlessly shot scene in which a stunt person swaps with Anil Kapoor in one scene when the car runs him over and Anil Kapoor swaps back in less than 15 seconds.
I am going to end this review by quoting myself from my last review of ‘Ludo’. “The Indian audience has always asked for an intellectually challenging film. And now when we are seeing one, we need to appreciate an artist who makes an honest attempt to entertain us”. Whenever people will recollect India’s best metacinema, AK vs AK will be on top.
Reviewed by Puneet Ruparel