Director AK vs AK: Vikramaditya Motwane
Note AK vs AK: Two and a half stars
A director “flop”. A longtime successful star. And a tale that is both real and non-real, borrowing from the real characters of the two main protagonists: Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor, the brash, outspoken and mad former creator of dark matter cinema; the latter, surprisingly fit, still active, always in demand.
An early rebound, which involves kidnapping and coercion filmed on camera, forces you to suspend disbelief: could the Kashyap we know really be behind the act; Can Kapoor, always known for his courtesy, really be such a rude? Or are both playing hyper-hypo-real versions of themselves?
Motwane’s film is not just a meta. It’s a meta-meta, especially when some parts are too close to the mark, and some are just plain irrelevant. Overnight, no can become a star, unless your last name is Kapoor, Anurag smirked, making Anil wince. This line, on the astonishing longevity of the Kapoors and the Khans, is well known. But we also know that Anil had to work hard for his success. And would AK Jr ever say that to AK Sr on his face?
Another major twist, which comes much later in the movie, requires us to look back and question our perceptions. Anil, who we have known as an on-screen hero (a whole roster of his successful roles unfold, including evergreen Lakhan and Munna), can he be a true “nayak”?
Any detail of that movie in a movie can be a spoiler. So I’ll just say that I enjoyed most of these capers, which could just as easily have been called “raat ek baat ki”, or “Mumbai raat ki baahon mein” or any other movie that involves a bunch of people moving around in the streets of a city that never sleeps, where anything can happen, and where everything is dreamlike. That goes without saying, doesn’t it, because that’s where the stars live, and when the stars are on the road, they belong to the public who adore them. Or wait, are the characters they play that we love?
A streak that gave me goosebumps caused Anil to sneak into a crowd and become a chameleon: is he for real, or is it all spinning? He’s desperate, looking for someone, almost on the phone. But people who recognize him, handing phones for selfies, are overjoyed to be in the presence of their one-two-ka-four-Lakhan. The crowd roars; among them we see Anurag, looking in awe.
One of the jokes inside the movie (you’ll have the most fun if you’re an industry insider) is based on a movie Anurag wanted to do with Anil that was never made, and watch here , they’re in a movie together. I’ve always argued that Anurag should act more: here he is doing Anurag, donned in a tracksuit and a pair of Balenciagas (are they real or fake?), With great glee and a momentary manic glow. I have a little problem, however. The film should have been sharper: it slides in parts, and you wish Anurag and / or Motwane had shouted “cut” earlier.
Finally, we end up with this eternal question: do the actors stop acting, even when the cameras stop rolling? At its heart, AK vs AK, feels like a secret fanboy fantasy. Anil is supported, with yet another “Filmfare” award (this time for the movie that’s in the movie, so fictional), and walks down a hallway, slo-mo, dark glasses in place, every inch of a star . The conflict is false, the hero worship is real.