Rajat Kapoor’s absurdist film in a film that follows a filmmaker and his runaway fictional hero is backed by a fiery supporting cast.
Writer-director Rajat Kapoor’s latest feature is a quirky, crowd-funded comedy-drama, a film within a film that explores a creator’s existential crisis. The opening scene takes place in a blue-walled hallway with identical wooden doors on either side. A man in a brown suit and trilby, carrying a blue briefcase, walks in and out of these doors. Then the clones of this man do the same. As the doors open and close, the upbeat music gives off a French comedy vibe.
It turns out that a not-so-successful indie filmmaker named RK (Rajat Kapoor) has a crisis of faith when he realizes that the retro romance drama he wrote, directed, and starred in. could be untenable. Producer Goel (Manurishi Chadha), a builder backing his first film venture, believes that Mahboob’s death at the end, at the hands of comic book villain KN Singh (Ranvir Shorey), will not go down well with audiences.
The low-budget film is in the editing phase as an already doubtful RK faces a much bigger crisis. The film’s hero Mahboob (Rajat Kapoor) has disappeared from the negatives. He stepped out of the frame and into real life (much like Tom Baxter’s character in Woody Allen’s Cairo Purple Rose), to keep a date with his love Gulabo, played by a diva-like actress Neha (played by Mallika Sherawat).
Once Mahboob is found, the storyline takes off as RK and his team attempt to explain reality to the fictional character while trying to convince him to return to the film. Frustrated by Mahboob’s refusal to return to the edge of the digital web, RK taunts and belittles Mahboob, repeatedly reminding the fugitive that he is a figment of RK’s imagination.
It turns out his doppelganger, who is also a talented chef, is more popular and well-liked than the self-absorbed RK himself, including by his own wife Seema (Kubbra Sait).
Through this situation, Kapoor addresses the themes of creativity, commerce, vanity and self-doubt. The final question is how far will you go for the sake of your art. The story gets stuck in an endless loop and the meta-plot tangles up a bit until Kapoor spins it to a crowd-pleasing climax.
With lively supporting performances from Kapoor as Mahboob, Shorey, Sait and Chadha and a fun cameo from Namit Das as the waiter, RK/RKAY It won’t shock or delight, but it’s an enjoyable, whimsical film that’s a wistful homage and homage to the meta-world it inhabits.
Rk/Rkay plays in cinemas
Udita Jhunjhunwala is a writer, film critic and festival programmer.
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