It’s a film within a film with layers that don’t fail to revoke your attention in case you’re drifting away at some point.

From the team of Sacred Games, the only difference stands that one of the directors isn’t a director this time but plays a director on screen. Coming from Vikramaditya Motwane it’s another meta-cinema experiment in the pool of legendary examples.

A genre where reality blends into fiction in a seamless manner. 

A man (Anil Kapoor) who has a record of giving 13 blockbuster hits in a row is challenged, agitated, tortured and pushed to extremes by a director (Anurag Kashyap) who sets his mind to prove his brilliance in his craft.

Filled with numerous references to cinema greats and cinema classics it comes off as an extremely courageous film which might have been an experiment in the initial phase but to the satisfaction of the viewers it is a breath of fresh air that stands out amongst the numerous series and films dropped every week.

From the first frame you feel you’re in the midst of all the action. With fly-on-the-wall style, a character (Yogita) carries a camera throughout the film and whatever you see is through her lens.

Both actors deliver towering performances and carry the film on their broad shoulders. Anurag Kashyap shines and surprises you with his capacity in acting keeping aside his forte as a director.

He appears relaxed. ‘Uber cool’ is the word. He doesn’t fidget around with things and the dialogue delivery is sharp, crisp and measured. To be honest he appears in so much control of his work you almost trust him and his intentions and you dive in with Anurag. And the see-saw isn’t tilted in one direction. Anil Kapoor balances the act and there’s incredible sync.

The film starts with a feud between Kapoor and Kashyap. And following the disgrace of being called a “fraud” Kashyap swears redemption and comes up with a realistic script which involves Kapoor saving his daughter Sonam who has been kidnapped and it’s a race against the clock on the streets and roads of Mumbai.

The films captures Mumbai in its bloom at night with principal photography being done at local train stations, Bandra, amongst the taxi drivers etc.

A sequence that calls for separate acknowledgement is a chase sequence stitched as a one-take(it might actually have been a one-take) that follows Kapoor hopping in and out of moving trains, dancing at a mela, ending up in almost being run over by a car. What ensues is a performance worthy of a nomination. Kapoor shows heartbreak, desperation as he kicks around and beats his head in a dark lane. 

But Kashyap doesn’t give up on his character. He maintains his determination to prove how “realistic” his cinema is. With an incredible, passionate fight scene which prolongs itself leaving Kashyap with his belly exposed, an emotional monologue from Kapoor and very sincere direction from Motwane, you have a good number of things to appreciate in the film. 

And it’s a sensitive film too at certain points with dialogues that click. Mentions of how Ola and Uber have messed up Kaali-Peelis’ market share, digs on the current state of leads in the Bollywood industry and anything that sticks with you.

Movies are autobiographical in nature for directors. Although Motwane is in the director’s seat in this one, there are references and scenes which speak of the current change coming in the industry. One could assume it also somehow hints at Kashyap’s nature and passion for making films when he says things like, “Main apne cinema ke liye jaan de sakta hu.”

At its core, it can be seen as a father’s(Kapoor) undying spirit to save his daughter at whatever terms and conditions put forward. There’s a twist in the tale. More than one in this case. And you start guessing it as the story unravels. You might be right for there is a pattern that can be noticed.

And to be honest there is no central theme to the film. Things happen left and right and keep you on the edge. It’s an interesting journey of a father so points given for writing. Most often, when attempting a new genre, a lot of attention is given to set designs, marketing, big budgets and bigger names on board but this one holds weight in its screenplay too.

Backed by impeccable marketing with two different versions of the main trailer being put out and the leads taking sly digs at each other and their works while they visit their houses, the movie lives upto the expectations created. It’s almost like a shooting star in a dark sky. Something new. Something experimental. Something sincere.

It’s an interesting watch which at a couple of points does overdo with the twists but one cannot complain. We’ll take anything that comes our way if it is as courageous as this was.

AK vs AK, starring Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane is now streaming on Netflix.


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