Vikramaditya Motwane has been one of the most promising directors to come out of the Hindi film industry in a long time, only to be preceded by his closest ally, one of the AKs in the film, Anurag Kashyap. And he proves it yet again, with gusto, through this mad ride of a film. One needs to be a special kind of nuts to set out to do something like this, especially given the culture of our country. The fact that this film has been made at all, leave alone with some of the biggest names in the industry, gives us hope for the future of our cinema.
The one thing this film achieves tremendously is to take one of the most overused adages prevalent in the film industry, “the script is the star”, and twist it so far that the lines blur and you’re left wondering if the script works because of the star or the star works because of the script. Although the film is titled AK vs AK, meaning Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap (playing themselves, albeit exaggerated versions), it works mainly because of Anil Kapoor. Kapoor, with the baggage of legacy on his shoulders, has been in the public eye for much of the last 4 decades, if not more, and that brings to the viewers’ attention the inner workings of his life. For example, we as viewers are aware of the fact that his wife, Sunita has never been in the limelight despite being a wife and a mother to two stars in the family. This is a subtle play on the fact that the viewer knows too much about them.
The makers use this to almost gnaw at the viewer for believing in the information available in the public domain, about the life of a celebrity. This gnawing plays out magnificently in two scenes with Kashyap. One, where he is seen shirtless in front of a mirror and behind him is Yogita (Yogita Bihani) on the bed, and as a viewer your first thought is that he slept with her and that chafes you because that is how Kashyap is made out to be, irrespective of the truth. In another scene, when Kapoor asks Yogita if she’s still a documentary filmmaker or has she graduated to becoming Kashyap’s girlfriend, it pinches you even more because that is what you have been thinking all the while. We choose to believe the worst in people, without caring for the truth. There are tonnes of people like that, just as in any industry, but that doesn’t give us the right to assume the worst.
Anil Kapoor has played some iconic roles in the past, and we’re all aware of his acting prowess, but he outdoes himself in this film. Kapoor is so good that he somehow manages to nudge us into schadenfreude every time he suffers on the screen, not so much because of his suffering but because of his performance. Great emotional performances do that to you. His angst when his son (Harshvardhan steals the show in a mere two minutes) exacerbates the situation by pitching his version of the story or when Anand (son-in-law Anand Ahuja) calls repeatedly to inquire about Sonam is delightful to watch.
Merriam-Webster defines metaphysics as abstract philosophical studies: a study of what is outside objective experience. Kapoor’s performance is metaphysical, exploring the realm outside of public perception and innate stardom. He implores you to see the side in him (even without overtly projecting it) that extends beyond the Anil Kapoor we know of. When, forced to break into a dance on stage amidst the gruelling search for his daughter, Kapoor starts off the dance with that famous gait, excruciatingly yet entertainingly, it’s hard not to be in awe. That we as viewers feel a range of emotions from joy to distress in a mere minute, just through that dance, is exemplary to say the least.
Most of acting is but dialogue and Kapoor embodies this with his performance. He shouts and cusses a lot but the emotion permeates through his gait, demeanour and, most of all, the way his body just droops in situations he feels helpless in. Maybe that is what acting is, a portrayal not just of the journey on screen but of that beyond it.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.