As many are aware, Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor have a long history. In 2003, they were meant to work together on Allwyn Kalicharan, a one-of-its-kind dystopian thriller set in Delhi. But the film never got made, with Anurag blaming Anil for thwarting the project. “I suffered a lot because of Anil Kapoor,” he said in a 2007 interview, “and I will not forget it.”
Forget it, he has not—at least on screen. In Vikramaditya Motwane’s meta-fictional thriller, AK vs AK, Anurag and Anil turn up as zanier versions of themselves. Anurag, attending a talk with Anil, reminds the 64-year-old actor that his time has passed. “He’s still trying to be a hero,” he tells the laughing crowd. Hearing this, Anil flips on his shades — always a sign of trouble — and drops water on Anurag’s shoes. Angered, the director unloads an entire glass on Anil’s face.
That final splash is important. Without it, this would just be a film about two Bollywood dads edging out on Netflix—a dark and geeky encore to last month’s The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. That’s the thing about the mockumentary format: unless you really dial it up, the fakeness starts to show. A little later, Anurag follows Anil into his van to pitch a film.
He tells him that he has kidnapped his daughter. With the clock ticking, Anil must find her by sunup or bring her harm. A camera would follow him around wherever he goes; he can’t involve cops or any outsider. “Sab kuch real hoga,” Anurag explains, unleashing his brand of cinema on him. For fans of both AKs, there’s much to chew. The setting of Christmas Eve — which is Anil’s real birthday, and the day of this film’s release — adds an urgency to the chase.
Having given in to Anurag’s ploy, Anil drops by for his birthday dinner at home. This is the bulk of the cameos you’ll get. Boney Kapoor talking exclusively in remakes is hilarious, though the 3-minute drive-by by Harshvardhan Kapoor won’t interest most. AK vs AK is a satire, but isn’t caustic in its view of the industry. The film doesn’t break ground in cinematic invention either.
It does, however, offer a nugget about filmmaking itself. “Who is more important — an actor or director?” someone asks at the start. The true answer is revealed later on, with Anil limping away from an accident and Anurag asking his camerawoman, “Did you get the shot?”
AK vs AK
Cast:Anurag Kashyap, Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Harshvardhan Kapoor
Streaming on: Netflix