The promotional campaign for ‘AK vs AK,’  Vikramaditya Motwane’s super meta suspense thriller, began with a mock Twitter argument between its two celebs, Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap, and gave its  audience a glance into the film beforehand. Both of them are likely the highest embodiments of two starkly distinct and often warring clans within Bollywood. Kapoor belongs to a long queue of cinematic legacy.

Apart from being active as an actor for numerous decades, he hasn’t lost his insatiable hunger for success and continues to polish and renew himself. Kashyap, on the other hand, is a highlighted personality in the new-age renaissance of Indian cinema. A figure known for making realistic films, he is a persistent outsider in the Bollywood community. Motwane gathers these two livewire celebrities in a project that gleefully blurs the interface between reel and real. SPOILERS AHEAD.


AK vs AK Plot Synopsis

Much like the promotional campaign, the movie itself starts with a public dispute between the two characters. Kashyap is still furious that Kapoor refused to act in his early 2000s project, ‘Allwyn Kalicharan’. So, he refuses to work with the veteran actor ever again. The heating argument that begins to boil even more in the make-up room before a public interview starts getting serious over the moment they appear on the stage. As the insults fly back and forth, both the host and audience are forgotten. It ultimately ended up in Kashyap throwing water on Kapoor’s face.

The ‘Black Friday’ director soon realizes how self-preserving the community can be as he faces an industry-wide backlash. His projects receive hold-ons; long-time “Kashyapian” actors start abandoning his sinking ship. In desire of avenging against the man he believes is the reason for all his woes; Kashyap makes a drastic plan with his assistant, Yogita Bihani. He abducts Kapoor’s daughter, Sonam, and gives the actor until sunrise to find her. Kashyap warns the ‘Nayak’ star of dire consequences if he fails or informs the cops.


AK vs AK. Image: The Indian Express

Initially doubtful, Kapoor becomes increasingly scared as he realizes that this is not some sick prank; Sonam indeed has become a victim of abduction. His hunt for his daughter makes him travel all over Mumbai and beyond. He follows 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.

In the starting of the third act, the story takes a sudden twist, compelling its viewers to drop all their presumptions. It is disclosed that without Kashyap’s knowledge, Sonam was taken to his home. And now, the whereabouts of director’s parents are unknown as well. Kashyap gets a taste of what Kapoor has been enduring all night long. Kashyap anxiously searches all over his house for his parents and then accuses Yogita of setting him up. He and Kapoor later  reach the barren construction site where Sonam was actually supposed to be taken.

When they arrive, they find the nothing there but a couple of camerapersons. Kashyap keeps telling him that this is not part of his script, and yet, when Kapoor reads it, it’s all there, even the smallest of detail. As the script says, Kapoor finds a gun inside Kashyap’s bag, and in a moment of intense fury, shoots the director.

AK vs AK Ending: Who Is Playing Whom?

It can be said that no film in the history of Bollywood can level up to this gem. Although, Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Fan’ comes quite close. Eventually, however, Khan’s superstar personality was protected because he played a character with a different name in that film. Kapoor and Kashyap don’t have that facility.


Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap in AK vs AK. Image: The Indian Express

So, even if they are playing a hyper version of themselves, the jokes and insults feel unsettling and personal. While we all know well that this is all fictional, a part of your mind continues to think whether Kashyap is this petty and violent or if Kapoor is that pretentious and lively. Perhaps this is where the film’s success lies, beyond any of its desires as a thriller. Despite carrying the names of the respective figures, the two protagonists are humorously fictional.

As it is common in the films world these days, ‘AK vs AK’ is full of pop culture references. From Kapoor’s and Kashyap’s own films to Hollywood and European cinema—Motwane and his writers take references from them all. In the concluding scene, Kapoor visits Kashyap in the hospital and quotes “Hannibal” Smith, a character of George Peppard in the TV show ‘The A-Team’. Kapoor then discloses that this was his revenge story and not Kashyap’s.

During the interview, Kapoor felt insulted when Kashyap brought up his age and mocked him in front of a live-audience for wishing to play leading roles. He first persuaded Yogita to serve as a double agent and set the entire thing up with his family’s help. On his orders, Yogita told Kashyap about the plan of kidnapping Sonam and tormenting Kapoor; 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, intentionally hit him with his car.


‘Slumdog Millionaire’ star Anil Kapoor in AK vs AK. Image: The Indian Express

Although Kashyap is unaware of this, he was never in control of this project. He wrote most of the script and set up how the initial elements of the story would uncover. He plotted to use Kapoor to achieve his position back in the industry. But Kapoor used his talent to start his career again instead. He manipulated Yogita with arguably the only thing that matters to a young filmmaker; the prospect of making a movie of their own.

With her help, Kapoor got control of the entire project right out of Kashyap’s hands. When Kashyap finds that his parents are missing, the cheerful and calculating mask he has been wearing throughout the night falls down. In its place, a scared and puzzled boy arrives. He doesn’t get an idea that the one who has tricked him is none other than his to-be victim until he explicitly learns about it.

Is Revenge Still on the Table?

After absurd end credits that show Kapoor rapping and boasting his victory; Kashyap is in a mental facility, sitting there, binding his hands together. During their investigation, the police summarize that Kapoor shot Kashyap in self-defense and exempt him of all charges. Kapoor has received the best actor award for his performance in what people now consider as Yogita’s film.

She has won the best director award herself, for her debut feature no less. Kashyap, however, now is completing 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 dialogue about payback from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. After all, Kashyap took on an bollywood giant with genuinely no support.


Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor. Image: Netflix

The crew comprised of him as the director and Yogita as the cameraperson. While, Kapoor, as he mentions himself, had his entire family. This is a seriously unequal war from the beginning. During their next faceoff, Kashyap will likely be more prepared. Quentin Tarantino and his films find their mention multiple times in ‘AK vs AK’. Revenge is no doubt, a dish best served cold.