RKay review

Rajat Kapur is seen in a still from his new film, “RK/RKay.” (Outsider Pictures photo)

You’ve got to hand it to Rajat Kapur.

Termed a master of “indie cinema” with films as varied as “Aankhon Dekhi,” “Mithya” and “Kadakh,” Kapur has proved his mastery again with “RK/RKay.”

“Kadakh” showed that he could engage the audience even within one room. Now Kapur tries a meta-movie, a film within a film, and the concept is so unique that he has crowdfunded the film, just as he had done once before.

“RK/RKay” tells the story of filmmaker RK (Kapur himself), who has made hit films and is now making a ‘60s love story between Mahbub (played by Kapur within the film that is within the film) and Gulabo (Mallika Sherawat), a quintessential ‘60s reel character. Playing the villain within the film is K.N. Singh (Ranvir Shorey), named after the evergreen baddie of that decade. He plays the spanner in the romantic works, and RK has scripted the film to end with Singh killing Mahbub.

When RK announces “It’s a wrap!” on completion, it would seem like celebration time, but trouble is in store. At the edit level, the leading man disappears from the movie!

A distraught RK looks for possible, plausible reasons, and soon encounters Mahbub as a real person, fond of cooking and unwillingly to go back into a movie wherein he will be bumped off. The high-maintenance actress Neha (obviously Sherawat) has her own agenda and RK’s wife Seema (Kubra Sait) and kids come in with their own contributions. So does producer Goel (Manu Rishi Chadha), desperate for recovering his investment.

And after that, things get more complex and convoluted, over to the climax in which the completed movie is shown and applauded—obviously with changes.

The subterranean issues Kapur looks at are how a writer can play God and decide what happens to characters he creates and scripts with a reel life of their own and the “freedom” to choose in life, even if it's in the limited run-time on celluloid. A character, notes Mahbub, has the right to choose life, not death. Scripts can be changed, for characters can have life and choices, too.

Sagar Desai, Kapur’s regular composer, scores the evocative background music that has the right flavor and heightens the impact of scenes from both the film and the movie within it. The camerawork is exceptional, and I liked Kapur’s detailing, like how he explains things to his kids (Johnny Depp comes in here as a reference!) and Namit Das, playing a waiter in a restobar, presenting his creation to the top filmmaker.

Above all, Kapur’s tribute to the‘60s cinema is a proper one and not derogatory, despite the over-the-top satirical aspects involved. A healthy respect for commercial cinema (after all, Kapur has gotten his commercial standing from many such films as an actor, even as he was making films that were HIS forte!) shows his broadminded frame of mind as an artiste.

He also delineates his two characters with almost finicky care. Mahbub obviously the more likable vis-à-vis the rather boorish RK. Mallika Sherawat, who has proved herself at comedy, shows her depth as an actress, especially as Neha, the epitome of temperament. Ranvir Shorey is impressive if routine as the actor playing the villain. The kids (Abhishek Sharma and Grace Girdhar) are complete naturals, and so is Kubbra Sait as RK’s harangued yet self-willed wife.

Watch this film for its sheer novelty and cinematic beauty. It may not be mainstream cinema in India (like Kapur’s other films) but films like these are meant to satiate the tastes of an evolved audience, unlike the hardcore pseudo-intellectual brigade.

Rating: ***1/2

Outsider Pictures present Mithya Talkies’ & Priyanshi Films’ ‘RK/RKay’

Written & Directed by: Rajat Kapur

Music: Sagar Desai

Starring: Rajat Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Ranvir Shorey, Chandrachoor Rai, Manu Rishi Chadha, Kubra Sait, Abhijeet Deshpande, Abhishek Sharma, Grace Girdhar, Shrikant Yadav, Vaishali Malhara, Namit Das, Waris Ahmed Zaidi & others

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