The Movie Waffler First Look Review - RK/RKAY | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - RK/RKAY

rk/rkay review
A filmmaker attempts to locate his fictional protagonist, who has escaped from the screen.

Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Rajat Kapoor

Starring: Rajat Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Ranvir Shorey, Chandrachoor Rai, Kubbra Sait, Manu Rishi Chadha

rk/rkay poster

Rajat Kapoor’s directorial efforts (Ankhon Deki, Raghu Romeo) receive nowhere near the same attention as some of his acting stuff – not too surprising considering he performs alongside superstars such as Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn – but he has quietly carved out a niche in the North Indian film industry as a terrific indie filmmaker who combines the neoteric with the classical. His films are as much of a product of today as they are tributes to cinema history. RK/RKAY might just be the purest distillation of his style yet.

rk/rkay review

Usually, Kapoor likes to occupy three roles – director, writer, actor – and his fulfilment of that capacity here is particularly interesting because of the autobiographical implications. In this quaint dramedy, he plays RK (who we can assume is based on himself considering the initials), a filmmaker who’s seeking to pay homage to classic Hollywood and Bollywood melodrama with his new film. His filmaholicism exudes through posters of M and La Dolce Vita plastered in his editing room. Blurring the lines of characterisation, Kapoor also plays Mahboob, the protagonist of RK’s film. RK’s nightmares around the narrative quality are compounded when Mahboob literally runs out of the film, disappearing from the frames, sparking a scramble to find him.

rk/rkay review

It very much is a cousin to The Purple Rose of Cairo in how it follows a fictional hero taking on his own life in the real world. As RK simply explains to his kids, “Johnny Depp hasn’t gone anywhere but Captain Jack Sparrow is missing.” The key difference between the two films is that there’s no love triangle here – this is more of an exploration of the self rather than our connection to others. When Mahboob returns and falls into an existential crisis about why all the crew members want to get a hold of him and how they know him so well – the only real person to him is his leading lady Gulabo (Mallika Shera) – he has to accept that he can’t run away from who he actually is. The journey of self-acceptance is both literal and emotional.

rk/rkay review

It’s such a cliché to say a film is about filmmaking itself, since almost every work can be interpreted as some sort of reflection of cinema. Even a Fast and Furious movie can be read this way, as it speaks to the power of escapist cinema and the uncapped potential of heightened on-screen realities. But RK/RKAY is a film that wears its cinephilia loud and proud and offers an interesting perspective on artistic frustrations. Its Woody Allen-esque premise captures the meta appeal of Charlie Kaufman and the whimsical pleasures of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and the film-within-a-film pays tribute to Guru Dutt and Douglas Sirk’s aesthetics. It functions as both a love letter to cinema and a lovely alternative Hindi film.

RK/RKAY will have a virtual cinema release across the US on Friday 14th May 2021. A UK/ROI release date is yet to be confirmed.

2021 movie reviews