The promotional campaign for ‘AK vs AK,’ Vikramaditya Motwane’s super meta suspense thriller, began with a mock Twitter feud between its two stars, Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap, and gave its prospective audience a glimpse of the film beforehand. The two of them are probably the highest embodiments of two starkly different and often warring clans within Bollywood. Kapoor hails from a long line of cinematic legacy.
Despite being active as an actor for several decades, he hasn’t lost his insatiable hunger for success and continues to reinvent himself. Kashyap, on the other hand, is a leading figure in the new-age renaissance of Indian cinema. A powerhouse known for making realistic films, he is a perpetual outsider in the Bollywood fraternity. Motwane brings together these two livewire personalities in a project that gleefully blurs the line between reel and real. SPOILERS AHEAD.
AK vs AK Plot Synopsis
Much like the promotional campaign, the film itself begins with a public feud between the two characters. Still angry that Kapoor declined to star in his early 2000s project, ‘Allwyn Kalicharan,’ Kashyap refuses to work with the veteran actor ever again. The simmering argument that begins to form in the make-up room before a public interview starts boiling over the moment they appear on the stage. As the insults fly back and forth, both the host and audience are forgotten. It ultimately culminates in Kashyap throwing water on Kapoor’s face.
‘The Gangs of Wasseypur’ director soon learns how self-preserving the fraternity can be as he faces an industry-wide backlash. His projects are canceled; long-time “Kashyapian” actors start abandoning his sinking ship. Desperate for revenge against the man he believes is the reason for all his woes, Kashyap comes up with a drastic plan with his assistant, Yogita Bihani. He kidnaps Kapoor’s daughter, Sonam, and gives the actor until sunrise to find her. Kashyap warns the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ star of dire consequences if he fails or goes to the police.
Initially skeptical, Kapoor becomes increasingly horrified as he realizes that this is not some sick prank; Sonam indeed has been abducted. His search for his daughter takes him all over Mumbai and beyond. He chases a man he believes was involved in the kidnapping across multiple railway stations, gets run over by a car, and even dances in front of a whistling and cheering crowd, just to get some information about his daughter.
At the beginning of the third act, the story makes a sudden turn, forcing its audience to give up all their presumptions. It is revealed that without Kashyap’s knowledge, Sonam was taken to his home. And now, the director’s parents are missing as well. Kashyap gets a taste of what Kapoor has been enduring all night long. Kashyap frantically searches all over his house for his parents and then accuses Yogita of setting him up. He and Kapoor later go to the deserted construction site where Sonam was originally supposed to be taken.
When they arrive, they find the place empty except for a couple of camerapersons. Kashyap keeps saying that this is not part of his script, and yet, when Kapoor reads it, it’s all there, right to the minutest of detail. As it is written in the script, Kapoor finds a gun inside Kashyap’s bag, and in an apparent moment of profound fury, shoots the director.
AK vs AK Ending: Who Is Playing Whom?
It can be safely said that there is no film in the history of Indian cinema that can be compared to this gem by Motwane, although Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Fan’ comes quite close. Ultimately, however, Khan’s superstar persona was protected because he portrayed a character with a different name in that film. Kapoor and Kashyap don’t have that luxury.
So, even if they are playing a hyper version of themselves, the jokes and insults feel uncomfortably personal. While you are well aware that this is all fictional, a part of your mind continues to wonder whether Kashyap is this petty and violent or if Kapoor is that pretentious and boisterous. Perhaps this is where the film’s success lies, beyond any of its aspirations as a thriller. Despite carrying the names of the respective personalities, the two protagonists are ridiculously fictional.
As is often the case with films about the cinematic world these days, ‘AK vs AK’ is riddled with pop culture references. From Kapoor’s and Kashyap’s own films to Hollywood and European cinema—Motwane and his writers draw from them all. In the closing scene, Kapoor visits Kashyap in the hospital and quotes “Hannibal” Smith, a character played by George Peppard in the TV show ‘The A-Team.’ Kapoor then reveals that this was his revenge story and not Kashyap’s.
During the interview, Kapoor was humiliated when Kashyap brought up his age and mocked him in front of a live-audience for wanting to play leading roles. He first convinced Yogita to serve as a double agent and set the entire thing up with his family’s help. On his instructions, Yogita told Kashyap about the plan of kidnapping Sonam and punishing Kapoor by making him run around Mumbai and make a fool of himself while they filmed it. Sonam was taken by people on Kapoor’s payroll, including Javed. His son, Harshvardhan, purposefully hit him with his car.
Although Kashyap doesn’t know this, he was never at the helm of this project. He wrote most of the script and set up how the initial aspects of the story would unfold. He planned to use Kapoor to regain his position in the industry. But Kapoor used his talent to restart his career instead. He lured in Yogita with arguably the only thing that matters to a young filmmaker: the prospect of making a movie of their own.
Through her, Kapoor hijacked the entire project right out of Kashyap’s hands. When Kashyap discovers that his parents are missing, the mirthful and calculating mask he has been wearing throughout the night crumbles. In its place, a scared and clueless boy emerges. He doesn’t realize that he has been duped by none other than his intended victim until he is explicitly told about it.
Is Revenge Still on the Table?
Following absurd end credits that depict Kapoor rapping and flaunting his victory, Kashyap is shown at a mental facility, sitting with his hands bound together. During their investigation, the police conclude that Kapoor shot Kashyap in self-defense and absolve him of all charges. Kapoor has won the best actor award for his performance in what is now regarded as Yogita’s film.
She has won the best director award herself, for her debut feature no less. Kashyap, however, now faces a sentence of up to 15 years. As he watches the award ceremony on TV, the only thing he can do is quote Faizal Khan’s (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) memorable lines about payback from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur.’ After all, Kashyap took on an industry giant with virtually no support.
The crew comprised of him as the director and Yogita as the cameraperson, while Kapoor, as he states himself, had his entire family. This is a severely unequal battle from the start. During their next confrontation, Kashyap will probably be more prepared. Quentin Tarantino and his films are referenced multiple times in ‘AK vs AK.’ Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.
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