Even before the trailer for Netflix's AK Vs. AK, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, released, the film had created a buzz - thanks to the very public war of words that the film's actors, Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap indulged in over Twitter.
While it was obvious that it was a marketing gimmick to promote the film, their social media 'fights' sure kept everyone's interest piqued. Finally, now that the film has released on Netflix, suffice to say the hype generated by the film's promotional tactics is more than justified.
Here's why AK vs AK is the perfect thriller to watch over the long-weekend:
A genre-defying thriller that keeps you engaged throughout.
While AK vs. AK is nowhere close to the genius of recent brilliant thrillers like Andhadhun or Judgementall Hai Kya?, it is a worthy addition to the list of engrossing Bollywood thrillers. More importantly, like Motwane's entire filmography, AK vs. AK also defies the genre it belongs to by bending the rules of conventional filmmaking.
Instead of scenes taut with tension that serve anticipation and fear, we have a single handheld camera and the camera person running behind the actor, birthing a shaky shot that feeds the story's original concept - that it's an actual film being made where a yesteryear superstar's daughter has been kidnapped by an experimental but down-on-luck director.
The film thus slowly builds to a climax that is not entirely unexpected but surprising nevertheless. It may dip in parts, but the overall result is well worth your time.
A novel concept.
Be it the comedy-drama Om Shanti Om or the drama Luck By Chance, Hindi movies have often had actors play fictionalized versions of themselves. But, much like Masaba Masaba, AK vs. AK develops a whole concept around the fictionalized worlds of two very real celebrities.
AK vs. AK naturally borrows elements from Anurag and Anil's actual persona and life, but ultimately, we're not seeing the story of the movie director and film actor but the two characters that writer Avinash Sampath has built. It's a clever mix of reality TV and thriller that deserves to be celebrated simply because of how unusual the concept is.
An indulgent but self-aware look at the way the film industry functions.
There's a scene in the movie where Anil Kapoor believes a person to be a taxi driver, but rather he is an actor who has done similar, blink-and-miss appearances in multiple movies. When the two meet, the 'taxi driver' casually remarks to Anil, "aap akele actor thodi hai film industry mein".
Such instances are sprinkled throughout the film, offering a rare insight into the way the industry functions. Like Boney Kapoor's off-hand comment about copying from Hollywood to make movies or Harshvardhan's remark on how Motwane 'screwed' him over (a not-so-subtle reference to Bhavesh Joshi).
Even if these instances were specifically developed for the film, they serve the purpose of finely balancing fiction with reality.
The everlasting charm of Anil Kapoor's screen presence.
I've always been a fan of the conventional Bollywood drama and Anil Kapoor is an out-and-out star of Bollywood's masala entertainers. Naturally then, I have a soft spot for his antics both on-screen and off-screen. And AK vs. AK perfectly merges his two sides - the actor who appears forever young and the star who worked for over four decades to make the leap to superstar.
Kashyap, who finally ditches the cameos for a full-fledged role, also does complete justice to his on-screen persona. But Kapoor is just a tad bit better at merging the two sides of his personality than Kashyap.
However, the film's execution is slightly lazy at times, failing to be as clever as the concept. A subtler crisscrossing of reality and fiction would have added to the film's element of surprise, allowing the audience to genuinely question the difference between real and reel.
Additionally, what starts off as a clever concept, wavers in the end, until the final twist is more disappointing than surprising. Yet, there is no denying the fact that it's a brave effort that pushes the boundaries when it comes to original content in Bollywood.
For an industry that churns out remixes by the second and exploits popular genres to the point of saturation, this is indeed a welcome experiment.
All images are from the trailer, unless specified otherwise.