When a movie pits a socially verbose director like Anurag Kashyap against a charismatic actor like Anil Kapoor, one would expect fireworks.
In Vikramaditya Motwane’s latest original Netflix outing, AK vs AK, the premise of a dramatic face off between the two antagonists plays out like, well, a movie, that you tend to sit back and watch nonchalantly.
Kashyap and Kapoor play exaggerated versions of their real selves on screen - a maverick director in search of a hit movie to salvage his flagging career and a commercially viable 80s Bollywood actor embittered by an earlier rejection in the hands of the same filmmaker.
The clash of egos between the duo sets off the conflict when Kashyap kidnaps Kapoor’s daughter (Sonam Kapoor in a cameo that mainly plays out on mobile screens) and the frantic search for the actress is turned into a real time movie by the ‘Tarantino of the Bollywood industry’ and his assistant (Yogita Bihani) manning a video camera.
If you are a Bollywood aficionado, the insider jokes will crack you up - the references to Nawazuddin Siddique being Kashyap’s go-to-actor and how Anil Kapoor put the down payment for Kashyap’s flat with the money he got for signing Nayak. The scene where Harshvardhan Kapoor takes off on Motwane for giving him a flop film like Bhavesh Joshi Superhero will put a smile on your face. AK vs AK is basically a movie that takes potshots at itself and the wider Bollywood industry around.
But at the same time, the action falls short of engaging you - so even as Anil runs around the streets of Mumbai in the middle of the night, with Kashyap filming his desperate search for Sonam, the hostage thriller fails to engross you completely. We are constantly aware we are watching a movie within a movie and but for the snarky comments thrown at each other, and the mock-doc style that can seem novel, it seems like a inside job meant to keep the protagonists engaged.
Even the twist, if one may call it that, at the end of the movie, is too weak to make you sit up and say, wow.
Kashyap and Kapoor are two public figures with extremely intense screen presence and while each play out their roles to perfection, the meta nature of the story never allows one to get engrossed in it totally.
As an experimental film, which straddles the real and reel world, AK vs AK is worth a watch for sure, but is that enough to entertain you is what you need to ask yourself at the end of it all.
AK vs AK is currently streaming on Netflix
AK vs AK
Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap.