AK VS AK Review (SPOILERS): I Made Notes! Every Reference Explained and Analyzed!

This is such a brilliant movie, and the more you know about it, the more you see how brilliant it is. Luckily, I just took a couple headache pills and the caffeine is going to keep me up all night, so I can tell you how brilliant it is!

Whole plot:

Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor are being interviewed together. Before the interview, Anil asks to work with Anurag, who turns him down. The interview quickly turns angry, and culminates in Anurag throwing water in Anil’s face and starting a feud. Months later, on Anil’s birthday, Anurag shows up at his trailer to tell him he has kidnapped Sonam, Anil has 14 hours to find her, and Anurag will be filming him the whole time. Anil at first goes to the police, then is scared from talking to them again by seeing Sonam be threatened. He goes home to find his brother Boney and his son Harsh waiting for him, but Anurag scares him from telling them the truth. Instead he tracks down the hotel where Sonam was last seen and watches the security footage there and finds an image of the taxi driver who took her. He goes all over the city asking drivers if they know this man, finally finding him at a street festival. He chases the man, but loses him when he is hit by a car. He goes back to the festival and dances for the crowd so they will help him and take him to the man. He finally finds the driver and scares him into taking him to where he took Sonam. But Anurag is surprised, because it is Anurag’s house. They go into Anurag’s house to find Sonam gone, and also Anurag’s parents kidnapped. Both men are now scared for their loved ones and rush to the warehouse where Anurag planned to hold Sonam and find more men holding cameras and no Sonam. Anil confronts Anurag who claims this is not his plan and shows his script notebook as proof. Anil reads the end and shows Anurag he really did plan all of this, and then shoots Anurag. Anurag is rushed to the hospital, Sonam and his parents are easily found in the basement of his apartment building, Sonam is reunited with Anil and Anurag is arrested for having created a crazed kidnapping plot.

TWIST!!!! Anil goes to visit Anurag in the hospital and reminds him that he has been on top for 40 years, there is no way a little director like Anurag can get the better of him. And we see a quick flashback, after the initial insult Anil noticed the pretty young camerawoman who was following Anurag. And he offered her a deal. She gave Anurag the idea to do this whole fake kidnapping, and then planted the evidence and coordinated it so Anil was really in control. Anil used his family (Sonam, Harsh, Boney) to support his performance as a worried trapped man. Harsh was even the one who ran him down with the car. Anurag dangerously underestimated all of them.

AK vs AK Movie Review - A Bizarre, Erratic Film That Is Fun To Watch

Let’s start with Anurag Kashyap, which is also where this film starts. He loves neorealism, Bicycle Thief and Taxi Driver are his ideals. He arrived in Bombay in the 90s and struggled really really hard to get a foothold in the industry. He finally got jobs writing scripts but dreamed of making movies. His first few films either got stalled in pre-production, or actually completed and stalled in post, or really really completed and then couldn’t find a distributor. Just a series of really terrible heartbreaks. Somewhere in there, his first marriage fell apart, partly because of his depression over his failures. He finally hit it big in the early 2000s, Dev.D is what really announced his talent, and on that set he met his second wife, Kalki Koechlin, about a decade younger than him. So Anurag because publicly known immediately as “divorced older guy dating a much younger woman”. He made a lot of movies very fast, once he got his shot, that is still his trademark, way more movies than you could think one man could make. One of those early films, The Girl in Yellow Boots, was English language and released internationally and got far better reviews overseas than at home. That was the start of Anurag’s strange relationship with the Indian film community. On the one hand, he loves it. You can see that in his movies, always in dialogue with past Hindi films. And the critics half the time really love him back. But his movies never make money and he tends to be appreciated more overseas than at home. He also tends to sounds his mouth off all the time about how Hindi cinema doesn’t appreciate him enough and is stupid and blah blah blah. But then he will also do favors like appearing in Farah Khan’s film Happy New Year. And he is good friends with Karan Johar, who quietly funds a lot of his movies.

And then there’s Anil Kapoor. He comes from a film family, twice over. First, he is distant cousins of the Kapoor-Kapoors. When his father first arrived in Bombay, they stayed in the Kapoor family guest house. But second, his father started working in the industry all on his own and managed to build up a small reputation as a producer. Anil technically was part of a film family, but when he started out his family power was so minor it didn’t really help him. He worked and scrapped and killed himself to get ahead. He finally found popular success and worked really hard to hold onto it. Along the way, he did the occasional more artistic film very quietly without a lot of publicity, mostly known as the ageless smiling lighthearted star. And then he launched his kids Harsh Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, using his star power to help them. And his connection to his now fairly successful producer brother Boney. He’s old now, very old, but still working very very hard, and still focusing on big fun old fashioned entertainers.

Anurag is a representative of a whole force within the Hindi cinema, the west-facing Artistes who hate Indian pop culture at the same time they crave popular approval. And Anil is a representative of another force, the hardworking star who came up when the industry was too busy to think about art and now is denigrated for not having that sensibility. What this film is doing is showing how each side craves approval from the other but, in the end, it takes more wits and talent and pure EXTRA to be a star than to be an artistic director.

This is the same message that the film Fan landed on, and before that Guddi, and before that Luck By Chance. And I am sure other behind the scenes movies I am forgetting too. The people who really work in the industry, when they sit down to write a script, the vision they show is that it is the actors who are nastiest, smartest, toughest, and all around more brutal than anyone else. A director can give all the interviews and fancy statements he wants, but in his heart, he knows the star is ready and able to buy and sell his soul.

Okay, now my annotations! I took 6 pages of notes, I may not end up using them all, but we will see:


The movie starts with the usual “this is fictional, not meant to defame any real person, purely coincidental, blah blah”. Which took me a second to get, and then, HA! It’s one of the best jokes in the film! Everyone onscreen is officially playing themselves. But the disclaimer is saying they aren’t. But they are.

Real Movie Titles

In the first scene, when Anil Kapoor and Anurag are talking in his dressing room, they are referring to real movies. Anurag really did try to get a film called Allwyn Kalicharan produced, and Anil Kapoor really was making a movie called Dil Dhadakne Do.

Zoya Akhtar's multi-starrer 'Dil Dhadakne Do' official poster out - The  Economic Times

Mashaal Story

When Anurag and Anil go out to be interviewed, Anil casually tells a story about filming Mashaal. There’s a lot of layers to that. It is a reminder to Anurag that he worked with Dilip Kumar, worked closely enough with him to call him by his real name “Yusuf”. Anil is no posturing popular actor, he worked with the best of the best. It’s also a reminder that Anil crawled his way up, he didn’t start with a grand launch, he worked and worked until he got that second lead role in Mashaal and made a mark opposite Dilip Sahib himself.

Mashaal Movie - Video Songs, Movie Trailer, Cast & Crew Details | YRF

Last Name Kapoor

Someone in the audience tauntingly says that it is easy to make it in films if your last name is “Kapoor”. Very telling comment in regards to Anil. Yes, his last name is “Kapoor”. But what did it get him? Poor relation status with the other Kapoors? Years of struggle to get a job in order to help support his family who were barely making it on his father’s producing profit? He has the name, but nothing that comes with it, it is a comment that reveals the very emptiness of the whole nepotism debate which ignores specifics.

Personal specific insults-Anurag’s Brother, Mr. India, Karan Johar Hand Me Downs

What I enjoy about these is that the back and forth at this point is so very specific, it is filmi person to filmi person. This is not Anurag and Anil posturing for the audience any more, it’s way too specific for the audience to get. Anurag’s brother is Abhinav Kashyap whose first movie, Dabangg, was a massive hit. Mr. India is Anil’s biggest hit, the movie where he plays a hero with the power to be invisible. Referring to that isn’t specific, but turning it into a metaphor, where Anurag says Anil has now become invisible in the modern world, that’s too subtle to play to an audience. And then my favorite, Karan Johar Hand Me Downs. Partly my favorite because sometimes it feels like I am the only person who remembers this. Karan Johar bankrolls Anurag!!!! He is his friend, he supports him financially and personally and professionally. Anurag would be having a much harder time of it today if Karan wasn’t quietly sponsoring him.

Actor' Karan Johar is 'Exploding' to Work With Anurag Kashyap - NDTV Movies


Anurag’s first people to drop his calls after he insults Anil are Taapsee and Nawazuddin. PERFECT! They aren’t big stars, they are parelal stars, the kind Anurag works with/has worked with in the past. It would be easy to name drop someone else, someone bigger, but that would not be realistic to the character of Anurag Kashyap.

Anil Looks Really Hot in Doorway

Anil looks really hot when he is kind of leaning in the doorway in his vanity van. I found this worthy of noting down.

Realistic-Shyam Benegal

Anurag says this will be the first time a big star gave a realistic performance since Shyam Benegal. Shyam Benegal is a director who first came to notice in the early 70s and is more or less still working today. He moves between super depressing realistic films, and more sort of lightly cynical black comedy films. And he does use big stars sometimes, it’s true.

Munna, Nayak, etc.

Anurag taunts Anil by listing off the names of his former hero parts, suggesting that now he is playing one of those heroes for real.


Anil gets a call from Sunita, his wife. She never appears onscreen, although it is teased a few times, but she does get enough references in phone calls to make her feel like a real part of his life. Sunita, by the way, was a model and flight attendant from a good family. When they started dating, she was making a lot more money than Anil. But after dating for years and years, he finally started getting good acting roles and they got married. It’s a sweet love story.

Anil Kapoor's 'Young And In Love' Birthday Post For Wife Sunita Is  Everything

Anurag Basu, Madhur Bhandakar, Vishal Bhardwaj

At the police station, Anurag Kashyap is mistaken again and again for one of the other big name arty directors. It’s kind of a backhanded rhyme with the reference to Anil as playing that whole list of hero characters. Anurag is playing the role of “art director” and so far as the public is concerned, he is as indistinguishable from all the others as Anil’s heroes are from each other.

Anil says “wife”

In the middle of a long complicated scene at the police station, Anil says “wife” when he should have said “daughter”, the cop corrects him, he says he got confused and keeps going. This is when I became aware of what a long unbroken take this is. From the time they arrive outside the station until they leave, the camera never stops rolling. My guess is that Anil-the-actor actually flubbed his line in the scene but they went passed it rather than try to reshoot the whole thing. The flub ended up making me more impressed, since it made me aware of how much he DIDN’T flub. If that was left in, it means the whole movie really was done in long takes with complicated scripted dialogue, and that was the only miss-step the whole time.

Driver Knows Where She Is

Anil has to find Sonam and Anurag has her phone, so he calls Harsh at home to get the number for Sonam’s driver to find out where she was last. Such an interesting glimpse into their busy lives. Anil is at the top of the pyramid, Sonam is there when he wants her, answers her phone, or shows up at planned events. But Harsh and Sonam are equals, so Harsh has her driver’s number and stuff for when he has to track her down. Anil is struggling a bit because he is out of touch with the day to day life of his daughter.


It’s Christmas! The hotel has Christmas stuff EVERYWHERE! FESTIVE!!!!

Event Wants Sonam, Not Anil

This is a very subtle thing. The film has established that Anil’s star is supposed to be on the wane while Sonam’s is rising (which is a slight fictionalization, I think in real life he still matters more). But at this particular event, a fashion show, Anil is totally useless. In a reflex star action, he offers to stand in for Sonam since she left the show in the lurch. And they don’t want him. This is right after the young female hotel clerk didn’t even recognize him. Anil may still be king for the taxi drivers and fanboy hotel managers, but the young urban women of Bombay turn to Sonam.

Anil is Hot in Glasses

Anil puts on glasses to look at the security footage and is hot.

“Surinder Kapoor”

It’s in this sequence that I get a good look at the fake name plate on the fake air force uniform Anil wears this whole time. “Surinder” was his Dad’s name, so that’s a nice little tip of the hat.

Anil Kapoor's Father Surinder Kapoor Passes Away - YouTube
Surinder Kapoor

Boney, Trainer

They arrive back at Anil’s house to find Boney Kapoor, his older brother, and his trainer waiting for him. In terms of making this actual film, I am sure they couldn’t get Sunita or Rhea, his real family, to appear on film. So it was easier to just use Boney and have him say “they all got tired of waiting and left”. But I like the glimpse of family life, seeing Boney hanging with his trainer, two people who are very different roles in his life, but both are always in and out of his house.

Harsh, Playing a Himbo

Harsh brings so much joy to my life! He is SO GOOD in this role!!!! Just fearlessly mocking himself. And the fun thing is that it is layers on layers. On first watch, we think it is Harsh-the-person making a fool of himself by playing the himbo. But on later watch, when we know he is in on the plan, it is Harsh-the-character making a fool of himself by playing the himbo.

Kaagaz Ke Phool

This is a really high class reference from Boney in response to Anurag saying he is making a movie about a director. One of many moments scattered through out showing that Anurag is a snob for discounting the popular film folks like the Kapoors. Pulling this out of the air, the optimal film about filmmaking which most people don’t remember is about filmmaking, that shows that Boney is way smart.

Filmed in CinemaScope - Upperstall.com

Aaliyah-Anurag’s Daughter

There’s a comment here about Aaliyah, and Anurag’s parents being in town. A little nod to how interconnected the film industry is, even folks you would think weren’t in the same circles still know these family details about each other.

THIS is what Anurag Kashyap has to say about launching his daughter Aaliyah  in Bollywood | Hindi Movie News - Times of India

Bhavesh Joshi

Motwane, who is directing this, directed Harsh in Bhavesh Joshi which Anurag produced, and which was brilliant but a flop. So having Harsh-the-Himbo call it out here is a funny little joke about Anurag and all his flops, and also a little reminder that “don’t discount Harsh, that was a good movie”.

Xmas Light Fight

I SAID THIS! Like two years ago, I wrote a fanfic which ends with a big fight scene using Christmas lights! Motwane reads my fanfic!!!

Anees Bazmee

The first taxi driver Anil approaches, asks for Anees Basmee’s number. Anees Bazmee is a big budget comedy director who Anil has had several hits with. He is exactly the kind of populist director that a taxi driver might enjoy, and makes the kind of films that Anurag Kashyap would hate.


I don’t know why I wrote this, does anyone else?

Anil-Good Shoulder/Waist Proportion From the Back

The camera is following him as he walks around talking to people, and it made me notice that he has a really nice shoulder/waist proportion when shot from the back.

Breathing-Javed Mic Conflict

This is really tiny, but it is the only clear error in the film. When I meet Motwane, I will point it out to him. Anil Kapoor is running ahead and the camerawoman is chasing him. We hear her panting into the mic on the camera as she runs, which is a great touch of realism. But we also hear Anil Kapoor shouting after the man he is chasing, “Javed!”. Which is not realistic. If the mic is attached to the camera (thus getting her breathing), it can’t possibly be capturing what Anil is saying as well. This scene should be her breathing, ambient crowd noise, and nothing from Anil.

1986 13 Superhits

Anil gives a great monologue here. Speaking of which, Harsh gave a great monologue earlier in the film. Seeing as this was clearly shot in an unbroken take with sync sound, both those monologues are spectacular achievements and should be applauded. Oh, and Anil really did have a bunch of superhits in the mid-80s. Kind of interesting, what he says in his monologue here weirdly echoes what his brother Sanjay says in his cameo in “The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives”. It’s not about having that string of hits, it’s about how you handle yourself when they are gone.

One 2 Ka 4 Fan Moment

Anil dances for the crowd at the neighborhood festival to his hit song “One 2 Ka 4”. Couple things about this. First, it is in keeping with this movies harsh view of fandom. Anil can’t just ask the crowd to help him because they love him, he has to dance for them, just as he has to give away his watch earlier, and take selfies with people, and on and on. Stars are seen as people to give to you, not be given too. Second, “One 2 Ka 4” is a song about being a conman, which resonates with the end of this film. Third, it’s totally the same concept as the end of Fan!!!! It’s not just “all the world’s a stage”, it is that there are stages all over the world. The star can use his power once he is on a stage, whether it is a little neighborhood festival or a movie screen.

Marriage Comment

Ouch!!! Anil says to Anurag that he shouldn’t hate him because he has a happy marriage and Anurag has two failed marriages. Knowing that line was written by Anurag’s best friend really puts a whole other flavor on it, doesn’t it? I mean….


HA! After Bombay Velvet failed, Anurag at one point declared he was moving to France because that’s where Cannes is and they appreciate good films there. Anurag is such a drama king, and mentioning him dreaming of this film playing at Cannes is another nice little slam written into the script by his best friend.


Insaan was the slogan of Harsh’s character in Bhavesh Joshi. I adore having him say it again in this movie as he drives his car into his father.

Final Thoughts

What this film is saying is that Anil Kapoor wins because he is willing to go farther and harder than anyone else, he has his family behind him, and he is really REALLY petty. Anurag loses because he always discounts everyone else, and he doesn’t have that killer instinct (he didn’t really kidnap Sonam and cut off her finger, Anil actually shot him and got him sent to jail). The film isn’t exactly saying that Anil is a better person than Anurag, but if the question from the start is if the director or star are more special, the film clearly says “Star”.

Okay, bed now good.

30 thoughts on “AK VS AK Review (SPOILERS): I Made Notes! Every Reference Explained and Analyzed!

  1. “Anand! I don’t know why I wrote this, does anyone else?”
    Anil gets a call from Anand Ahuja (Sonam’s husband), who pretends to be concerned about her whereabouts.


  2. Either I watched a different film, or I’m like those typical fans who sit back and demand but never give.

    I’ve said it here before, and written articles about it, Indian movies are my salvation, my escape. Since that’s what I expect from them, that’s pretty much what I get.

    But your revue has opened my eyes . I haven’t been giving Indian cinema “the respect it deserves”. I’m missing out, filling my belly but not my soul.

    My New Year’s resolution is to start paying attention. First up, re-watch AK vs AK with your notes in hand. And from now on, keep enjoying the fun (SRK and Sonu shirtless in Happy New Year) but don’t ignore the foundation.

    Thank you.


    • I’m really impressed that you enjoyed it just sitting back and watching! This is a very different kind of film, I thought the only people who would be able to enjoy it would be the ones who got all the little references. I’m not sure if I would have been able to enjoy it as a thriller, the twists came so fast and I would have been completely lost.

      Also, Happy New Year! This Friday! Nothing to think about there, for sure.

      On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 7:42 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • My husband watched it with me after hearing me guffaw through the first ten minutes and he really enjoyed it with zero knowledge of the industry or any of the people in the film. A lot of the comedy still comes through (the cab driver with a script for example) and the tension of trying to find Sonam propels the story forward. It’s a film that works on many levels.


  3. I absolutely loved this movie. I had zero expectations going in and it blew me away. Anil is a MF MOVIE STAR and don’t you forget it. Anurag was good but it was Anil’s show 100%.

    Something I don’t see discussed enough (though a review in Film Companion touched on this) is how political this film is. Anil wearing an Air Force uniform that becomes increasingly degraded and bloodied as the film goes on is very much a statement. So is the way that Anil, as a representative both of Bollywood dynastic power and by proxy the power of the government and cultural institutions in India, crushes Anurag.

    People online are saying this is the film Fan wanted to be but there’s no way a Khan could make this movie because their stardom would overwhelm the filmmaking. Anil was exactly the right level of star, someone older and part of the establishment and deeply respected but not going to cause riots on the streets.


    • Interesting take on the politics. I saw the uniform as a nod of the head to the traditional Air Force Officer movie hero, more of a movie statement than a State statement, but it works both ways. The political statement I saw was more about the common lowly man versus the intellectual. Anil is “Mr. India” who has become invisible and unnoticed, his fans are the kitchen workers and taxi drivers, he is underestimated by the international “Cannes” looking Anurag. But in the end, he dominates.

      I was thinking about Fan as well. I think Fan is exactly the film it wanted to be, but the problem was expectations and budget. There was no way to make a Shahrukh film with low expectations and low budget, and no way a dark investigation of stardom was going to find popular appeal. Fan is such a puzzle, I love that it exists because it is brilliant, but I am also aware that it should not exist because it is a film too odd to ever find a mass appeal.


      • There’s so many ways to view/understand this film! I was talking to Melanie about how the whole shitshow of Bollywood this year, the lack of decent films, SSR controversy and how that ignited the insider debate that the government seized on to cover up their failures. Also how the public was so easily swayed to turn on their former idols. So the common lowly man is super, duper problematic in this film. The scene where Anil performs for them to find the cab driver is the heart of the movie and shows how messed up the relationship is. Stars have power but that power can turn on them if they take a single misstep (and it happened to Anurag too at the start of the film when everyone abandons him, even his artsy crowd)


        • YES! Both this movie and Fan really dug into the power/powerlessness of the star. It can all turn on a dime. They have real power, it’s not an illusion when they can stroll into a police station and immediately be seen. But that real power is so transitory, far more than any other public figure. It just takes one bad story, one moment of “failing” the public for it all to go away.

          That also gets back to Anurag’s ending. Anurag is low at the start of the film, but he can still talk his way onto film sets, he is still working. Anil decides to take him down for real. It’s not about “public opinion”, it’s about getting him arrested and put away. The transitory nature of public power means you can lose it, but it could also be regained. Anil creates a punishment where Anurag is never coming back.

          To take this in another direction, remember that Motwane and Anurag both dealt with a rapist in their business. They did literally everything they could to make sure his career was ended, and it wasn’t enough. Short of legal action, you can always bounce back. So in this film, they show that the talking heads can attack Anurag, everyone can think of him as a “bad person”, but you need actual legal crime to really make him go away.


          • Good lord I’d forgotten about the rapist. Terrible and I agree this is a meta reference to that as well. It really speaks to the failure of institutional power to mete out justice but also how the institutional power can be harnessed for vengeance.


  4. You captured a lot, I just have one other bit to toss in. It felt like Anurag set up the central conflict during the interview when he said (paraphrasing, I don’t remember the exact line) “your medium is the stage, but there is only one camera and the director controls what it shows”, which I understood to mean something like you can do your song and dance and hold the attention of the audience, but it’s the director who controls how they see you and the story being told. When Anurag invades Anil’s trailer, and at various other points like at the end of the Christmas fight scene, he seems to be challenging Anil – hey, hero, do you still know what to do when you have no script to give you the lines and action? Showing that the director is the mastermind and the star is no hero without him. The low point of this arc is when Anil is crawling on the ground after being hit by the car, the kind of sequence that in a film he would be shown bouncing right back up to continue the chase, while in the “real” world he his winded, bleeding, and groveling. But this is the moment when Anil gets up on the actual stage (this scene is the most beautiful cinematically, besides being an emotional gut punch as Alisa said) and uses his star power to essentially turn the tables, finding the guy who takes them to the scene of the crime and sets up the climax.

    Later, after all the twists are revealed, it feels like the director’s narrow lens of control is what makes it easier for him to be manipulated (if what he has is the camera and you take away the camera, what is left?), while the star has the whole city as his canvas. But…the actual director is Motwane and this is his actual script and he is actually in control of the whole story including Anil, so…who wins? Maybe everyone but Anurag :).


    • YES! And part of this narrow focus is literally not seeing what is behind the camera. But a star is facing the camera, he knows there are people behind it, he sees the people seeing him. Anurag ignored his camera people, even at the end when common sense should tell him who betrayed him, he was still easily distracted from that conclusion. But Anil immediately senses the camerawoman as the weak spot and brings her over to his side. Anurag says he is in control because he controls the camera, but Anil controls the people who control the camera.

      I’ll give another logical twist to the “but Motwane is writing this story and directing the film” question. The story and film drastically changed, as soon as Anil got involved. The story and how it happens is centered around Anil Kapoor and what he brings to the table, there is no film without Anil and Boney and Harsh and Sonam and all the rest of it. Motwane started it, but it is Anil who breaths life into it.

      On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 4:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • I was so happy the camerawoman stuck it to Anurag because it was such sh*t that he took credit for what he thought was her idea and of course he was sleeping with her too. So gross and of course you reminded me of Vikas Bahl and aaaaaaaaahhhhh so much meta.


          • I did too!!!! Except to be fair, Anil never really did anything to her, it was all Anurag’s dismissiveness and stuff. So I would have been happy if the film ended with the reveal that she was out to get Anurag and Anil’s temporary distress was collateral damage.

            On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 9:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • YES! And such a great choice to make her a camerawoman and everything about how that played out. Anurag just saw her as an assistant, and then a girlfriend. Anil saw her as an ambitious person and ended up treating her right getting her an award and stuff.


  5. I didn’t want to put this in the non-spoiler section so dropping here: I about died when Anil strangled Anurag with the Christmas tree lights and Anurag was struggling to grab his inhaler. So many surreal and side-splitting moments like that in the movie. I can’t get over how hard I laughed.


    • YES! especially because it came right after Harsh’s amazing monologue about the epic fight scene he imagines. And then we get two middle-aged guys rolling around on a floor in a living room, instead of a car chase and machine guns.


  6. So I watched Fan tonight for comparison and woo, first half had a brilliant performance by SRK and the right tone overall and then it went completely filmi in the second half and it was wrong wrong wrong. So disappointing. The director did him wrong. The soundtrack in particular was terrible and terribly distracting. There are definitely thematic overlaps with AK vs. AK but ultimately Fan didn’t trust itself or the audience enough.


    • I love that scene where Aryan confronts Gaurav in the jail. If the whole movie could have been more like that, it would have been less commercial but more twisty and raw.


      • That scene, and their final conversation on the rooftop, that’s the heart of the film.

        On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 10:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • I found the second half way less off tone on my second viewing. One of those films where if you know how it is going to end, you are able to pick up the breadcrumbs along the way that tie it together. Which isn’t an excuse exactly, a film should work on the first watch, just that I think it is a movie where the flaw isn’t so much “weak second half” as “second half that isn’t as good and also you appreciate a lot more on subsequent watches instead of the first”.


  7. It may not have been ideal watching this film on a handheld device while pushing a napping kid in his stroller, but at least I finished this way. I quite enjoyed myself.

    I wouldn’t notice a technical error like the one you pointed out. But I was thrown a little in the end at the hospital, when Sonam was clutching a piece of bloody fabric to her hand. I thought the finger that was supposedly cut off had turned out to be a prop.

    I couldn’t really get behind the motives in the end. Even for Anurag, it seemed extreme to actually kidnap Sonam, even if the threat was ultimately fake. And he would have actually got a movie out of that, something that might further his career. For Anil, the whole thing didn’t make any sense at all. He planned all of that when Anurag hadn’t done anything to him yet but throw a glass of water in his face. Well, and hurt his pride. A sane person wouldn’t want to shoot someone and send them to prison for that.

    But that, too, does get me thinking. Because part of what makes it so unbelievable is Anil’s public persona. I do see him as “Anil Uncle”, though not in a depreciating way. I could totally see him going all out if his kids were threatened, which made the bulk of the movie seem so realistic. But in the end: He is an actor. So who is to say that his public persona isn’t all an act, too, and he really is the psychopath shown in this movie? (Well, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have made this film in that case.)


    • Question: Were you out for a walk and he fell asleep, or were you pushing the stroller around your house because it was the only way to put him to sleep?

      I think the point of the film is that you have to be a little insane to become that level of celebrity. But that does raise the question of “how does Anil Uncle become a celebrity in real life?” And I think the answer is that he is a slightly different celebrity in this film than in real life, he is playing character parts and little roles and stuff now, he isn’t trying to stay a big Hero type like his character in the film is trying to do. I can ABSOLUTELY see any of the 3 Khans, or Akshay Kumar, or Ajay Devgan, or any of the other top-tops doing something like an elaborate plot to take vengeance for public disrespect without any possible consequences. That’s why they are where they are. Anil is too nice to be a top star. In reality, that is.

      On Sat, Jan 2, 2021 at 3:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • I think so too. Which is why I’m starting to really like Anil.

        And we have trouble getting the kid to take his nap at home. Taking him out in the stroller is our best bet. Which can turn into real fun now that it’s started to snow.


        • Oh dear. Well, at least he’s getting lots of fresh air and vitamin D.

          On Sun, Jan 3, 2021 at 6:01 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  8. No work here because of heavy snow, so the family lazed around and watched this as a Sunday-morning movie. I had been avoiding this film because I thought it wouldn’t be my thing, but I realize now that the premise had been poorly conveyed to me. What a heck of a good time! Also: what a strange concept this must have been to have to pitch to the cast. I would have liked to have heard the “elevator speech” on this one!

    One thing that occurred to me as resonating a great deal with how you have often written about the Hindi industry is character-Anil saying (I think shortly after Harsh has run him over, lol) about how he helped get character-Anurag a job writing dialogues early on, that he clapped the first take on his first film or something of the sort. Anurag is out of line to hold the popular film industry in such disdain because it was his stepping-stone, too, and he ought to owe the currency of loyalty to many people in that world, of whom Anil is only one. This same notion of “shitting where you eat” as being particularly bad form is something I have seen play out IRL in press/interviews surrounding Hindi film, so that moment stuck out to me. And then when character-Anil gets his seventh (?) Filmfare at the end, he immediately thanks “the whole film fraternity.”

    The main reason I am writing, though, is that I also noticed that moment where we first hear both Anil and Yogita’s audio, but interpreted it in a very different way: I assumed it was saying something about how the film-within-a-film would likely have been made, rather than representing a logical error in the film itself. (This movie is exhausting to refer to, OMG!) It had already been obvious that Anil and Anurag were both body-miked–possibly Yogita also. I’m not certain which scene exactly this was, but early on, shortly after everybody had left the studio/trailer, there was one point when Anil and Anurag had their heads particularly close together. You could hear the sound-to-noise ratio suddenly go a little more “live” as a result of two lavaliers being in the same space. And every so often we would hear the “chuff” of a lav rubbing up against someone’s clothing, hair, etc.*

    By this I mean that the audio of the “real film” was probably managed partially through lavs—presumably with boom as well, in the indoor or more static scenes—but also that it could be how we are meant to understand the film-within-a-film being managed. These days, fancy body mics not only have a transmitter but also their own battery packs, which are small enough to tuck into your waistband and let you run all over the place. As soon as I heard that first chuffy bit, my mind seamlessly interpolated the notion that character-Anurag would have asked character-Anil to mic up sometime between when they left the trailer and arrived at the precinct. The meaningfulness of this explanation depends on whether or not you think that would happen within the world of the film; the ending, to my mind, makes that seem more likely. Anil has reason to want to be heard.

    So when we heard Yogita panting, I didn’t think, “Hey, why can we still hear Anil up ahead?” Rather, I thought, “Hmm, does she simply have the ambient on her camera on, or is she actually on a separate lav?” (She had not really said enough before for me to wonder about it.) But in the alley scene it becomes evident that she is almost certainly on her own lav. Already I had been expecting Yogita to have some bigger part in the story than simply running around pulling focus. I had wondered, for instance, why Anurag was frequently saying “Cut!” but she wasn’t actually cutting ( ; And having her be on her own mic channel pushed my suspicions even more in that direction. It’s just her and Anil talking for a long period in that side street, and it is important that they both be heard (film or film-within-film).

    *When I was first learning to mic people for oral history interviews, my trainer told me that “There is nothing so covertly gendered as a lavalier mic.” Women are often harder to mic well because the clips are designed with a men’s dress shirt in mind. But even worse are men with beards! Beards eat lavs for breakfast. You get it clipped in the perfect position, but as soon as you roll sound the guy invariably tilts his head .0001” and the mic is chuffing on the beard (which is absolute agony when you’ve got monitoring headphones on). So after I picked up on the lav thing, I was chuckling at Anil’s and Anurag’s stubble!


    • Thank you for digging deep on the mics!

      I like the idea that within-the-movie we are meant to understand that they all micced up at a some point. These are professionals after all, it would be something they could/would do casually, not something they would have to spend an hour futzing with to get it right and get used to it (the way I would have).

      On Sun, Feb 14, 2021 at 11:45 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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