AK vs AK (2020)

Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor in a still from AK vs AK
  • Release Date: 24/12/2020
  • Cast: Anil Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Yogita Bihani, Harshvardhan, Sonam Kapoor
  • Director: Vikramaditya Motwane

Entertaining, oddball, and goofy! AK vs AK presents a unique idea with a penchant for effective storytelling

There is a scene towards the end of AK vs AK where a distraught Anil Kapoor playing himself has just been hit by a speeding car and is lying on the road begging for information about his daughter Sonam Kapoor’s whereabouts from the girl who has been filming him throughout his pursuit. He is as much in mental trauma as he is in agonizing pain and it is at this moment that Anurag Kashyap playing himself just about catches up with him. Seeing him battered, bruised, and laying on the road, he enquires with the girl about what had happened. She replies that he was hit by a car. Kashyap before asking whether Anil is all right asks if she had got it on camera. She replies that the footage was fantastic.

Kashyap lets out a grin that showcases as much his sense of achievement as it does his craze for the picture that he was making at the cost of the life and safety of a superstar. It was his way of getting back at this star who had not given him the desired respect in the past and had nearly wiped out his career quite recently after having a tussle with him on a live show. AK vs AK documents the sheer insanity of two self-obsessed stars — one director, one actor — and the limits that they are willing to go in order to showcase their respective art and leave an indelible mark on the cinema-space of the world and at the same time getting even with each other.

AK vs AK has a fascinating idea at its core. A superstar who is approaching his heydays but still believes and acts in a manner that is reminiscent of the millennium star that he was is brutally insulted by a director who is extremely proud of his art and has his head full of the stature that foreign directors enjoy. He believes that he hasn’t got his due because the Indian film industry is overrun by nepotism and that its viewers are also too enamored by stars when they should be ideally concentrating on the film, the art, and the storyteller. While the star believes that the story is the star, the director believes that the film belongs to the director as it is made with a camera that has only one viewfinder and it is the director that sees the movie unfold through that viewfinder.

Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor in a still from AK vs AK

The bitter verbal tussle reaches a crescendo when the director splashes a glass of water on the face of the star. In retaliation, the star goes ahead, pulls a few strings, and has the director in a difficult spot by incapacitating his upward surge in the industry by using some tricks of the trade. The director takes the matter to heart and since cinema is all that he knows, he decides to interweave his cinematic ambitions and his revenge using the common thread of filmmaking. Anurag Kashyap kidnaps Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam Kapoor and forces him to track her down within the night while he films Anil’s every action that he plans to later edit into a full-fledged film.

For a concept like this to work, the two protagonists needed to be believable and had to grab our attention with their renditions of the characters. Thankfully both Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor are in firm grasp of their respective characters. From the very first time we see AK and AK together, we can sense an air of heightened emotions running between the two. When Anil offers to do a film with Anurag, he refuses him unceremoniously without even looking at him. Minutes later, Anil Kapoor grabs Anurag by the mouth as he is trying to enact another actor who had done the same to him but he does so with a kind of vibe that draws our attention to the bad blood between the two and then all hell breaks loose by the end of the talk.

We witness the tension rise gradually and organically and it goes down a long way to set up the basic premise of the film since it explains and sets up the hate between the two in a manner that is relatable and effective. The next few sequences are even better that sets the entire game into motion as we see why and how Anurag sets about on the path of revenge. It isn’t easy for him to make Anil do his bidding as he has already severed all ties with Anurag and is extremely difficult to reach out to. Anurag has to wait for hours to get the man free and barge into his vanity van to let him in on his elaborate conspiracy. The next challenge is to make Anil pay attention to what he has to say and make him believe his tale. All this is envisioned and executed efficiently.  Once Anil realizes that Anurag is not lying and he indeed has Sonam Kapoor in his captivity, the real fun begins.

Anil Kapoor in a still from AK vs AK

Brief sequences like how a hotel manager takes advantage of Anil’s predicament to push the marketing of his hotel, the visit to the Kapoor household where we see Harshvardhan Kapoor and Boney Kapoor react to the odd behavior of Anil and a prolonged monologue of Harshvardhan Kapoor that pushes both the men to the brink of physical violence add an element of fun and intrigue to the tale. There were sequences when I felt that Anil was not exuding enough tension for the kind of predicament that he was in and I learned why in the climax of the film. I also thought that the visit to his house, the behavior of Harshvardhan Kapoor, and the other characters in the house were rather theatrical but it is wonderfully justified by the climax. However, what the climax lacks is a sense of believability and explanation to all that we see Anil Kapoor pull off. I felt that Vikramaditya Motwane needed a few more re-writes to nail these issues and that would have made the film’s overall impact a lot more profound.  

AK vs AK is a crazy concept that cannot be justified by any means. One has to take the film for the whacky and tumultuous ride that it is and the viewer has to be ready for a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. What worked for the film were its craft and the approach to the storytelling that Motwane took. The amount of effort that he puts in to make the screenplay believable and not insult the audience’s intelligence deserves appreciation. It is pointless to question the viability of such an insane plot or raise questions on particular portions of the script or how certain things happened. The ending did pull the fabric of believability a little too far and left a truckload of unanswered questions. However, since the two AKs did so well and rendered their characters so entertaining, I am willing to ignore the lapses in the climax and the overall holes in the fabric of logic of the narrative. AK vs AK is definitely a welcome break from the ordinary fares that we are served in the name of entertainment and I found it very entertaining and intriguing.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)


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