Actual, reel & in-between: AK vs AK, a darkish comedy thriller, introduces the viewers to a singular craft of storytelling

Gurnaaz Kaur

Who is bigger in the industry—the filmmaker or the actor? Is it the vision of the director who creates the story or the actor who pulls the audience and thus bring box-office success? The film begins at a MAMI interaction where one of the attendees throws open this question to Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor. While Kapoor believes it is the actor who rules the medium, Kashyap disagrees. Tempers flare and a clash ensues with Kashyap splashing a glass of water on Kapoor’s face. The industry is outraged at Kashyap and makes him an outcast. It’s time for revenge. Anurag Kashyap kidnaps Sonam Kapoor and Anil Kapoor has only 10 hours to find her. In all this, Anurag’s assistant Yogita Bihani (whom we hardly get to see since she is behind the camera) will film his every move. But wait… is it happening for real or is it for reel? This question stays with you throughout the flick, an experiment like no other in Bollywood. Released on December 24 for a reason, as that’s when the movie starts off, on Kapoor’s birthday. His family is waiting for him to celebrate his birthday whereas this helpless father has just the night to find his daughter. Jerky camera movements, a race against time on the streets of a city that never sleeps, this movie in a movie keeps you on tenterhooks. A hostage thriller, a drama rehearsal, a real-life agony- all of it or none of it. You know it is a film but the way it is made makes you doubt it still.

In AK vs AK, streaming on Netflix, this tussle between the director and actor has a point. To whom does the industry belong? There is a reference to nepotism when Anurag says no one becomes an overnight star unless there is Kapoor or Khan as the surname. Along the way, some real-life events add to the bizarre drama, like the mention of Allwyn Kalicharan and Grant Road, the films Anurag wanted to make with Anil Kapoor but the latter refused owing to his superstar status. In one scene, Anil Kapoor supported Kashyap in his early days, from paying the first instalment of his house to doing the mahurat clap of his first film. Such dialogues add even more strength to this metafilm.

Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap both have tasted success for their work. And even as they play themselves in this film, they are indeed outstanding. Anurag Kashyap is a natural in his negative role, playing with eyes and using that grin every now and then to prove his point. Anil Kapoor had the camera on him constantly and you feel his pain as he sets out on this mission to rescue his daughter. There are scenes where you feel pity, too. Like the one when he passes through a crowd celebrating Christmas and performs One Two Ka Four on stage. It makes you realise the power of public in making someone a star.

There is a lot to this film that will make you think and you’ll end up with admiration for the craft and those playing their roles.

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