“Mera ek hi dharam hai, Cinema! Jeena yahan aur marna yahan”
– AK (I’ll keep you guessing which one though)
A riot of real-reel reflections!
Started as what seemed like a parody of sorts, AKvsAk takes a fast-paced, action-packed, intentional, and well laid out jibe at Bollywood itself.
While Anurag Kashyap embodies an all-encompassing spirit of world-directors from Benegal, Stanislavaski, Scorsese, to Tarantino; Anil Kapoor brings forth a culmination of his roles and the ultra-actor performance manifesting Lakhan-Nayak-Mr.India all at once.
The film is a funny-dark-witty work of art with its classic Motwane-Kashyap elements and moments of darkness and chills. The hand-shaking, the leg-thumping, the blood, the bruises, the abuses, and the abstract of creation give life to debutant writer Avinash Sampath in a marathon of what seems like a Race against time (and people) itself.
Developed over more than half a decade, the rolling-beathing heavily-never-stopping camera work, following a running, panicking, sweating Anil Kapoor with Kashyap throwing mind games like a deck of cards, is a fresh take on our own obsession with documenting life rather that living it. This burlesque and brash take continues to mock the facade of social media and our tech-obsessions. Peel another layer and it makes you wonder whether people are actually fooling the algorithm or if the algorithm continues to fool us all. The plot, changing and thrilling, raises more question of what’s real and what’s not. (Like Morpheus peeping at us from under his glasses and through our black mirrors)
At some point, Yogita’s repeatedly asking AK after he rams into a car,”Sir, are you okay, are you okay, are you okay” is another real jibe at Bollywood and its unreal action-dialogue symbiosis in mainstream cinema.
The movie absolutely has negligible female presence, but despite that, manages to bring forth the question of female safety. The plot single-handedly (in a very Pierre Morel’s Taken-styled manner) highlights the insecurities entailing the mere ‘absence of the female lead role’.
It’s like Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ had a rebirth, but only to hold the mirror to the Indian Bollywood. The actor-director tension is birthed and maintained through the narrative. The obnoxious obsession of the masses with fame and celebrities is further weaved into motion, scene by scene. Furthermore, the satirical media coverage shown in the movie is another slap in the face of our present fourth-estate standards and a mockery of how recent events have been covered or continue to be communicated at a mass scale. (Think Sridevi’s and SSR’s demise)
All an all, a riot, a revelation, a subtle slap and slaughter of cinema itself, AKvsAk is an idea or a taste of what the future potential holds here. Made me nostalgic about the Franco-Rogen-Jonah.Hill-styled visual-verbal-vulgar extravaganza (think This is the end)
Welcome home, meta-cinema!